The Implicit and Explicit Processing of the Facial Expression of Emotion in the Healthy Aging Adult
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Elderly individuals are consistently reported as having difficulty in identifying the facial expression of negative emotions; they pay less attention to negative emotional stimuli, and experience less emotion themselves when compared to younger adults. The ability to process emotion is thought to be critical for communication with others and yet, despite the claims above, healthy-aging older adults do not appear to demonstrate interpersonal problems in their everyday lives. Therefore, although older adults are significantly worse at explicitly labelling emotions compared with younger adults, it may be that they are still able to implicitly identify the emotions and therefore adapt their behaviour accordingly. This study aims to determine the healthy aging adults’ ability to explicitly and implicitly process the facial expression of emotion. Analysis was undertaken to determine which specific emotion the older group had difficulty with when asked to identify the implicitly presented emotion, whether the position of the presentation of the photograph had any influence, the role of social contact on performance, and whether, in-keeping with previous research, the older group had significant difficulty correctly identifying the explicitly presented facial expressions of emotion when compared with the younger group.