Age Differences in Exposure and Reactions to Interpersonal Tensions: A Daily Diary Study

This study examines age differences in exposure and reactivity to interpersonal tensions. The data are from the National Study of Daily Experiences in which participants ages 25 to 74 (N = 666) completed phone interviews wherein they described interpersonal tensions and rated the stressfulness of the tensions each evening for 8 days. Coders rated descriptions for types of behavioral reactions. Multilevel models revealed older adults reported fewer interpersonal tensions, were more likely to report tensions with spouses, were less likely to report tensions with children, experienced less stress, and were less likely to argue and more likely to do nothing in response to tensions than were younger adults. Age differences in emotional and behavioral reactions did not appear to be due to variations in exposure to tensions. The discussion centers on why older people may be better able to regulate their reactions to problems than younger people.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]