Is Age-related Decline in Vocal Emotion Identification an Artefact of Labelling Cognitions?

Rachel L. C. Mitchell, Rachel A. Kingston


Evidence has emerged that older adults find it more difficult to interpret prosodic emotions than younger adults.
However, typical tasks involve labelling-related cognitions over and above emotion perception per se. Accordingly, we aimed to determine if age-related difficulty in prosodic emotion labelling extended to discrimination, which is more closely related to emotion perception per se. For this purpose, 45 younger adults
(mean age 20 years, 2 males/43 females) and 45 older adults (mean age 71 years, 16 males/29 females) were recruited. In one task, participants heard pairs of sentences and were asked to indicate whether they were spoken with the same emotional intonational or not. In a second task, they heard sentences with intonation conveying a question or statement, and indicated whether the non-emotional intonation patterns matched or not. Older adults’ performance consistently fell below that of younger adults. Older adults may have a generic prosodic decoding deficit, regardless of the end function of the prosody.

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International Journal of Psychological Studies   ISSN 1918-7211 (Print)   ISSN 1918-722X (Online)

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