2021 Volume 29 Issue 3 Pages 162-171
Age-related changes in affect have been described in developmental sciences, and the majority of these studies have focused on long-term intraindividual changes over years. However, evidence on short-term intraindividual variations over days remains limited. Using a daily diary method, we examined age differences in intraindividual variability in emotions in 19 young (19–29 years) and 21 older (82–84 years) adults. The participants rated the extent to which daily positive affect and negative affect were experienced each evening for seven days. Intraindividual variability in affect was quantified by three measures: variability (intraindividual standard deviation), inertia (autocorrelation), and instability (mean square successive difference). For the measures of variability and instability, older adults exhibited lower levels of intraindividual variability in affect compared with young adults. More inert positive emotions were associated with higher mean levels of negative emotions only in older adults. Future research should examine the mechanisms underlying age differences in emotional variability.