Positive and Negative Emotion in Older Vs. Younger Adults amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Frances Li, MEd

McLean Hospital – Lab Manager, Research Assistant
Li_Frances poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: Consistent evidence suggests that despite a decline in health, older adults generally experience less negative affect and equal or more positive affect compared to young adults (Mather & Carstensen, 2005). This study investigates whether this age difference in self-reported affect persisted during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Methods: Using TestMyBrain.org, a well-validated online cognitive testing platform, we analyzed scores from 14,938 individuals who completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS, Crawford & Henry, 2004) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Linear regression was used to characterize the relationship between age and PANAS scores in both the full sample, as well as a sample of US-only participants tested in March and April 2020 (N = 1,424).

Results: Results of the liner regression model revealed that age significantly predicted PANAS score (p < .001), consistent with previous findings. Compared to younger participants, the oldest age group had significantly higher PANAS scores (F = 56.42, P < .001), with Cohen’s d of 0.68.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that older adult’s tendency toward higher positive emotion persisted despite the greater potential health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on older adults.

Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Frances Li, MEd, Eliza Passell, BA, Liz Grinspoon, PhD, Laura Germine, PhD

Principal Investigator

Laura Germine, PhD