Objectives: This review examines differences in the use of emotion regulation (ER) strategies among younger and older adults. Method: A systematic review using search terms related to ageing and ER identified 23 relevant studies. Narrative synthesis was adopted to analyse the findings. Results: Generally, greater use of situation selection and attentional deployment was identified among older adults, although these relationships were dependent on contextual/moderator variables. While older adults employed greater levels of situation modification in response to negative stimuli, there was considerable variation in age differences across specific situation modification subtypes. Available evidence pointed to an absence of age differences in the cognitive change strategy of cognitive reappraisal. The use of relatively less-cognitively demanding cognitive change subtypes (e.g. acceptance) was, under particular circumstances, greater among older adults. Findings regarding the response modulation strategy of expressive suppression were equivocal. Conclusion: Adult development is not characterised by straightforward shifts in preferences for use of different ER strategies. Moderator variables appear to be of central importance in shaping the emergence of age differences in ER. Systematically examining interactions of age with individual difference variables and situational factors in samples including oldest-old adults will be important for advancing knowledge regarding developmental differences in ER.
- Age differences
- emotion regulation
- lifespan development
- process model of emotion regulation