What accounts for differences in "ideal affect," or the affective states that people value and ideally want to feel? The investigators predict that ideal affect influences what people do to feel good and what decisions they make. Preliminary studies suggest that younger adults value excitement states more and calm states less than do older adults, with middle age adults falling in between the groups. Therefore, age differences in mood-producing behaviors and decision making may be mediated by ideal affect. This study used a combination of survey, experience sampling, and experimental methods to test these hypotheses in samples that vary in terms of age and ethnicity. Specifically, the investigators examined whether: (1) the measure of ideal affect is reliable and valid with middle-age and older adults, (2) there are age differences in ideal affect, (3) ideal affect is related to mood-producing behavior and health-related decision making, and (4) age differences in mood-producing behavior and health-related decision making are due to variation in ideal affect.
This study is a seed project for the Center on Advancing Decision Making for Aging.