Emotion, Regulation, and Learning across the Adult Lifespan

Nathan S. Consedine

in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Second edition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736300
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Emotion, Regulation, and Learning across the Adult Lifespan

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  • Developmental Psychology



Changes in emotion and emotion regulatory functioning are intimately linked with learning across the adult lifespan. Not only do emotions facilitate learning but persons also learn about their emotions; themselves; their priorities, capacities, and values; the actions of other people; social rules; and the interactions between these phenomena. Following a brief overview of current knowledge regarding age variation in emotion experience, signaling, and physiology, the chapter outlines a view of emotional development and learning based in developmental functionalism. This view suggests that changes in emotion and emotion regulatory development across the adult lifespan are most usefully viewed as reflecting the interactive influences of three age-linked phenomena—changes in normative tasks/goals, changes in relevant capacities, and changes in the tactics used to achieve desired ends. Specific sections are devoted to describing how aging and learning impact (a) tasks, goals, and motivations; (b) organismic physical, recognition, cognitive, self-knowledge, goal management, and regulatory resources; and (c) the tactics different persons use. Overall, it is suggested that a lifespan’s learning regarding one’s resources, capacities, and tactics enables older adults to offset losses in some resource domains with gains in others, a pattern reflected in distinct patterns of emotional and regulatory tactics.

Keywords: emotion; emotion regulation; emotional complexity; discrete emotions; lifespan development; older adult; developmental functionalism; learning; life tasks; capacities; tactics

Article.  18014 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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