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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Do adults from different age groups vary in the intensity or the variability of their everyday affective experiences? Are there age-related differences in the likelihood of encountering, and in the intensity of affectively reacting to, affect-eliciting events in daily life? Do individuals from different age groups differ in the complexity of their everyday affective lives? We review evidence on these questions currently available from ambulatory assessment studies. Ambulatory assessment refers to a group of research techniques—such as diary or experience sampling methods—that repeatedly capture everyday experiences as they naturally occur in people’s daily lives. We summarize the strengths and challenges of ambulatory assessment methods, discuss the available evidence from ambulatory assessment studies on age differences in everyday affective experiences and stability, and summarize research on possible factors that may contribute to these effects. Here, we address findings on age differences in the likelihood of encountering distressing experiences, on age differences in people’s affective reactions to such events, and on age differences in people’s affect regulation orientations. We also review ambulatory assessment evidence on age differences in the complexity of everyday affective experiences.

Keywords: affective development, age differences, ambulatory assessment, diary method, experience sampling, affective well-being, affective experiences, affective reactivity, affective complexity, affect regulation

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