Author's Final Manuscript
Research in Human Development
Psychological defense theories postulate that keeping threatening information out of awareness brings short-term reduction of anxiety at the cost of longer-term dysfunction. By contrast, Socioemotional Selectivity Theory suggests that preference for positively-valenced information is a manifestation of adaptive emotion regulation in later life. Using six decades of longitudinal data on 61 men, we examined links between emotion regulation indices informed by these distinct conceptualizations: defense patterns in earlier adulthood and selective memory for positively-valenced images in late life. Men who used more avoidant defenses in midlife recognized fewer emotionally-valenced and neutral images in a memory test 35-40 years later. Late-life satisfaction was positively linked with mid-life engaging defenses but negatively linked at the trend level with concurrent positivity bias.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Research in Human Development in 2010, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15427609.2010.526527#.U9kUB6jg34g
Waldinger, R.J., & Schulz, M.S. (2010). Facing the music or burying our heads in the sand?: Adaptive emotion regulation in midlife and late life. Research in Human Development 7, 292-306.