Age, Rumination, and Emotional Recovery From a Psychosocial Stressor
Exposure to psychosocial stressors often elicits increases in negative affect and blood pressure (BP). Rumination, or thinking about a stressor after it passes, is associated with delayed recovery. Given that older age is associated with greater BP reactivity to psychosocial stressors, rumination may be more detrimental to the recovery of older adults than younger adults. The current study examined this question. We hypothesized that prolonged distress resulting from rumination has greater effects on the recovery of older than younger adults.
Fifty-two older ( M = 69 years) and 61 younger ( M = 21 years) adults were exposed to a lab stressor. Afterwards, participants were randomly assigned to a rumination condition ( n = 58) or a no-instruction control condition ( n = 55).
Older participants in the rumination condition had delayed BP recovery relative to those in the control condition and all younger adults. Rumination did not influence affective recovery among any of the groups.
Rumination delays BP recovery among older adults, suggesting age-specific risks associated with different types of emotion regulation strategies.
Robinette, J. W., & Charles, S. T. (2016). Age, rumination, and emotional recovery from a psychosocial stressor. The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 71(2), 265–274. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gbu097