Age Differences in Emotion-Induced Blindness: Positivity Effects in Early Attention

Briana L. Kennedy, Ringo Huang, Mara Mather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Compared with younger adults, older adults tend to favor positive information more than negative information in their attention and memory. This "positivity effect" has been observed in various paradigms, but at which stage it impacts cognitive processing and how it influences processing other stimuli appearing around the same time remains unclear. Across 4 experiments, we examined how older adults prioritize emotional information in early attention. Both younger and older adults demonstrated emotion-induced blindness-identifying targets in a rapid serial display of pictures with less accuracy after emotional compared with neutral distractors- but older adults demonstrated a positivity bias at this early attentional level. Moreover, the bias toward positive but not negative information in older adults was reduced when they had a working memory load. These results suggest that a selective bias toward positive, but not negative, information occurs early in visual processing, and the bias relies on cognitive control resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266–1278
Issue number7
Early online date12 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Age Differences in Emotion-Induced Blindness: Positivity Effects in Early Attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this