Feelings can sometimes be confusing, but as you age and grow, so do they.

According to new research, our way of interpreting and processing emotion changes greatly as we age. In youth, we are more sensitive to negative cues as grow socially, while when we’re older, we’re more positive overall (“How sensitivity,” 2019).

To test this, researchers utilized almost 10,000 men and women to complete a digital emotional sensitivity test – these people ranged from ages 10 to 85. This test required the individuals to detect differences in facial cues for various emotions such as fear, anger, and happiness. They then had to answer questions by looking at various faces to determine which one had stronger emotion (“How sensitivity,” 2019).

“ ‘From studies and anecdotal evidence, we know that the everyday experiences of an adolescent is different from a middle aged or older person, but we wanted to understand how these experiences might be linked with differences in basic emotion understanding,’” stated Laura Germine, PhD, senior author of the study (“How sensitivity,” 2019).

It was found that anger cues develop greatly when one is going through early adolescence – the researchers connected this to an adolescent’s likelihood of being bullied is increased, which would affect ones sensitivity to anger. On the older end of the spectrum, sensitivity to fear or angry decreases, but happiness stays the same (“How sensitivity,” 2019).

“ ‘What’s remarkable is that we see declines in many visual perceptual abilities as we get older, but here we did not see much declines in the perception of happiness…these findings fit well with other research showing that older adults tend to have more positive emotions and a positive outlook,’” stated Germine (“How sensitivity,” 2019).

Reference: McLean Hospital. (2019, March 1). How sensitivity to emotions changes across the lifespan: Researchers gain a deeper understanding into differences in emotion processing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190301192648.htm