Aire Mill will defend her doctoral thesis titled „ Exploring the role of personality traits and age in the experience and recognition of emotions” on 26 October 2017 at 12.15.
Professor Anu Realo, PhD, University of Warwick (UK) and University of Tartu
Professor Jüri Allik, PhD, University of Tartu
Johnny Fontaine, PhD, University of Ghent, Belgium
Description of the problem
Emotions colour the life of every people every day. The emotional life is unique for each individual, but at the same time, there are general patterns of experience, expression and recognition of emotions. The current research is aimed to understand emotion processes and individual differences in them. The main research question asks to what extent are the experience, expression and recognition of emotions affected by personality traits and age of participants.
Result and benefit
The thesis consists of two experiments, in the first one the individual differences in emotion recognition were analyzed. In the second experiment, the individual differences in the experience and expression of emotions was explored. There are five main conclusions of the dissertation. Firstly, people have generalized view about their emphatic accuracy across different domains (i.e. personality, identity etc.). This self-rated empathic accuracy, however, is not related to actual mind-reading skills, but rather reflects one´s personality traits. Actual mind-reading skills measured as an objective performance on emotion recognition and personality assessment rather reflect one’s cognitive abilities. Secondly, despite of growing life experience, the emotion perception of some specific emotions seems to decline during aging. First signs of age-differences in emotion recognition accuracy emerge already at the age of thirties, being most distinctive for negative emotions of anger and sadness. The recognition of facial contempt, however, increases until 60 years of age. Thirdly, memories about experienced emotions of sadness, fear, happiness, and anger are systematically influenced both at state- and trait-level factors depending on the time passed. Fourthly, tiredness as one of the most frequently reported mental states is influenced by both mean levels of experienced emotions as well as by emotional variability. Fifthly, anger behavior is influenced by co-occurring emotions that are simultaneously elicited in situations. There are specific interactive effects between the experience of momentary emotions and personality traits that lead to higher levels of either suppression or expression of anger behavior (or both).