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Aging and attentional bias for death related and general threat-related information: less avoidance in older as compared with middle-aged adults

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Abstract
Objectives. The aging literature suggests that life satisfaction and affective well being stabilizes or even increases during the aging process, and that death anxiety would decrease with aging. Experimental psychology literature shows that emotions play a critical role in information processing. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether death related versus nondeath-related threat words would lead to differential attentional processing in middle aged versus older adults. Method. Twenty-seven older adults between 74 and 90 year and 31 middle-aged adults between 40 and 50 years participated in the study. We used questionnaires to asses death anxiety and an exogenous cueing task to measure attention toward death related versus general threat words. Results. Our results showed no age-related differences in self-reported death anxiety, but less attentional avoidance of threat in older adults. We failed to demonstrate differences between general and death-related threat. Discussion. This is the first study investigating attentional processing of both death- and threat-related information in older versus younger adults. Less avoidance from threat suggests that with aging, death becomes less of a concern, which might be indicative of acceptance of the own finiteness at old age.
Keywords
TERROR MANAGEMENT THEORY, MORTALITY SALIENCE, VISUAL-ATTENTION, YOUNGER ADULTS, ATTITUDES, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, TIME, THOUGHTS, BELIEF, Aging, Attentional bias, Death anxiety, Threat

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MLA
De Raedt, Rudi, Ernst Koster, and Ruben Ryckewaert. “Aging and Attentional Bias for Death Related and General Threat-related Information: Less Avoidance in Older as Compared with Middle-aged Adults.” JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY SERIES B-PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES 68.1 (2013): 41–48. Print.
APA
De Raedt, Rudi, Koster, E., & Ryckewaert, R. (2013). Aging and attentional bias for death related and general threat-related information: less avoidance in older as compared with middle-aged adults. JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY SERIES B-PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, 68(1), 41–48.
Chicago author-date
De Raedt, Rudi, Ernst Koster, and Ruben Ryckewaert. 2013. “Aging and Attentional Bias for Death Related and General Threat-related Information: Less Avoidance in Older as Compared with Middle-aged Adults.” Journals of Gerontology Series B-psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 68 (1): 41–48.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Raedt, Rudi, Ernst Koster, and Ruben Ryckewaert. 2013. “Aging and Attentional Bias for Death Related and General Threat-related Information: Less Avoidance in Older as Compared with Middle-aged Adults.” Journals of Gerontology Series B-psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 68 (1): 41–48.
Vancouver
1.
De Raedt R, Koster E, Ryckewaert R. Aging and attentional bias for death related and general threat-related information: less avoidance in older as compared with middle-aged adults. JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY SERIES B-PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES. 2013;68(1):41–8.
IEEE
[1]
R. De Raedt, E. Koster, and R. Ryckewaert, “Aging and attentional bias for death related and general threat-related information: less avoidance in older as compared with middle-aged adults,” JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY SERIES B-PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 41–48, 2013.
@article{3023943,
  abstract     = {Objectives. The aging literature suggests that life satisfaction and affective well being stabilizes or even increases during the aging process, and that death anxiety would decrease with aging. Experimental psychology literature shows that emotions play a critical role in information processing. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether death related versus nondeath-related threat words would lead to differential attentional processing in middle aged versus older adults. Method. Twenty-seven older adults between 74 and 90 year and 31 middle-aged adults between 40 and 50 years participated in the study. We used questionnaires to asses death anxiety and an exogenous cueing task to measure attention toward death related versus general threat words. Results. Our results showed no age-related differences in self-reported death anxiety, but less attentional avoidance of threat in older adults. We failed to demonstrate differences between general and death-related threat. Discussion. This is the first study investigating attentional processing of both death- and threat-related information in older versus younger adults. Less avoidance from threat suggests that with aging, death becomes less of a concern, which might be indicative of acceptance of the own finiteness at old age.},
  author       = {De Raedt, Rudi and Koster, Ernst and Ryckewaert, Ruben},
  issn         = {1079-5014},
  journal      = {JOURNALS OF GERONTOLOGY SERIES B-PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES},
  keywords     = {TERROR MANAGEMENT THEORY,MORTALITY SALIENCE,VISUAL-ATTENTION,YOUNGER ADULTS,ATTITUDES,DEPRESSION,ANXIETY,TIME,THOUGHTS,BELIEF,Aging,Attentional bias,Death anxiety,Threat},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {41--48},
  title        = {Aging and attentional bias for death related and general threat-related information: less avoidance in older as compared with middle-aged adults},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbs047},
  volume       = {68},
  year         = {2013},
}

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