Age differences in recognition of emotion in lexical stimuli and facial expressions

Derek M. Isaacowitz, Corinna E. Löckenhoff, Richard D. Lane, Ron Wright, Lee Sechrest, Robert Riedel, Paul Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Age differences in emotion recognition from lexical stimuli and facial expressions were examined in a cross-sectional sample of adults aged 18 to 85 (N = 357). Emotion-specific response biases differed by age: Older adults were disproportionately more likely to incorrectly label lexical stimuli as happiness, sadness, and surprise and to incorrectly label facial stimuli as disgust and fear. After these biases were controlled, findings suggested that older adults were less accurate at identifying emotions than were young adults, but the pattern differed across emotions and task types. The lexical task showed stronger age differences than the facial task, and for lexical stimuli, age groups differed in accuracy for all emotional states except fear. For facial stimuli, in contrast, age groups differed only in accuracy for anger, disgust, fear, and happiness. Implications for age-related changes in different types of emotional processing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-159
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Aging
  • Emotion recognition
  • Facial expressions
  • Lexical stimuli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

Isaacowitz, D. M., Löckenhoff, C. E., Lane, R. D., Wright, R., Sechrest, L., Riedel, R., & Costa, P. (2007). Age differences in recognition of emotion in lexical stimuli and facial expressions. Psychology and Aging, 22(1), 147-159.