Publication Date:
Author(s): Julie Wood, Zita Oravecz, Nina Vogel, Lizbeth Benson, Sy-Miin Chow, Pamela M. Cole, David E. Conroy, Aaron L. Pincus, Nilam Ram
Publisher: Gerontological Society of America
Publication Type: Academic Journal Article
Journal Title: Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume: 73
Issue: 1
Page Range: 171-184

Objectives: Life-span theories of aging suggest improvements and decrements in individuals' ability to regulate affect. Dynamic process models, with intensive longitudinal data, provide new opportunities to articulate specific theories about individual differences in intraindividual dynamics. This paper illustrates a method for operationalizing affect dynamics using a multilevel stochastic differential equation (SDE) model, and examines how those dynamics differ with age and trait-level tendencies to deploy emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression). Method: Univariate multilevel SDE models, estimated in a Bayesian framework, were fit to 21 days of ecological momentary assessments of affect valence and arousal (average 6.93/day, SD = 1.89) obtained from 150 adults (age 18-89 years)-specifically capturing temporal dynamics of individuals' core affect in terms of attractor point, reactivity to biopsychosocial (BPS) inputs, and attractor strength. Results: Older age was associated with higher arousal attractor point and less BPS-related reactivity. Greater use of reappraisal was associated with lower valence attractor point. Intraindividual variability in regulation strategy use was associated with greater BPS-related reactivity and attractor strength, but in different ways for valence and arousal. Discussion: The results highlight the utility of SDE models for studying affect dynamics and informing theoretical predictions about how intraindividual dynamics change over the life course.