The impact of positive reappraisal on positive (and negative) emotion among older adults

Jamie S. Nowlan, Viviana M. Wuthrich*, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Positive reappraisal is an important cognitive strategy for older adults associated with wide-ranging improvements in psychological well-being. However, little is known about the relationship between positive reappraisal and positive and negative emotion, anxiety and depression, and whether positive reappraisal is associated with continued increases in positive emotion over time. Methods: In the first study, 61 participants aged 62 to 88 years (M = 72, SD = 5.8) completed current measures of cognitive emotion regulation, positive emotion, negative emotion, anxiety and depression regarding their most distressing aging-related adverse life event, and rated (retrospectively) positive reappraisal use at the time of the stressor. Utilizing a longitudinal design, in a second study 60 participants aged 62 to 88 years (M = 71.2, SD = 5.7) completed the same measures for a recent adverse life event and repeated the measures 3 and 6 months later. Results: In the first study, positive reappraisal reported for both time periods was significantly correlated with current positive emotion, but not negative emotion with mixed findings for anxiety and depression, and positive reappraisal use increased with time since stressor onset. In the second study, positive reappraisal was significantly correlated with positive emotion and significantly predicted positive emotion from 3-month to 6-month follow-up, and was related to anxiety and depression but not general negative emotion. Conclusions: These findings indicate that positive reappraisal is related to positive emotion but not consistently with negative emotion, and continues to be beneficial over time in older adults who have experienced a stressor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-693
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • cognitive reappraisal
  • coping
  • positive emotion
  • Positive reappraisal


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