Isaacowitz, D.M., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2001). Is pessimistic explanatory style a risk factor for depressive mood among community-dwelling older adults? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39, 255-272.

Examined 2 senses in which pessimism might be a risk factor for depressive mood among older adults. The 1st was that a pessimistic explanatory style would predict changes toward depressive mood when combined with stressful life events. The 2nd was that predictive pessimism, or thinking that bad events will happen in the future, would predict changes in depressive symptoms. Participants were 71 64-94 yr olds. Ss completed questionnaires that included measures of explanatory style, depressive mood, and life events. Approximately 1 mo later, 67 of the Ss completed the measures of depressive mood and life events. Six mo and 1 yr after the original interview, Ss reported on their depressive symptoms and on any life events experienced during that period. An interaction between explanatory style and life stressors was found, but it was the optimists who were at higher risk for depressive symptoms after negative life events. The authors also found support for predictive pessimism, however, as a predictor of depressive symptoms over time.


Carstensen, L.L., Charles, S.T., & Isaacowitz, D.M. (2000). Applying science to human behavior (Reply to Comment). American Psychologist, 55, 343.

Responds to N. Abi-Hashem’s (see record 2000-03002-010) comments on the Carstensen et al (see record 1999-10334-001) article arguing that time perception is integral to human motivation. The authors feel that the concerns raised by Abi-Hashem are concerns that could be voiced about any scientific attempt to study human behavior.

Isaacowitz, D.M., Charles, S.T., & Carstensen, L.L. (2000). Emotion and cognition. In F.I.M. Craik & T.A. Salthouse (Eds)., The Handbook of Aging and Cognition (2nd edition, pp. 593-631). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

(from the chapter) Attempts to show linkages between emotion and cognition and to make the case that these connections are particularly important for research on cognitive aging. The discussion focuses on the ways in which emotion may influence cognitive processing in older adults. The authors review evidence that emotional functioning is well maintained in later life and is highly salient in mental representations, memory, social judgments, and motivation among older adults. The authors begin with a brief overview of studies examining the influence of emotion on cognition. Next, they present relevant empirical findings about age differences in emotional experience and review theories that predict an increased prominence of emotion in cognitive processing across adulthood. Finally, they suggest ways that emotional changes may influence performance on traditional cognitive tasks and consider alternative explanations for observed age differences. The authors conclude that a comprehensive understanding of either cognitive or emotional functioning in old age must include consideration of the interplay between the 2 constructs.

Seligman, M.E.P., & Isaacowitz, D.M. (2000). Learned helplessness. The Encyclopedia of Stress (Vol. 2, pp. 599-603). San Diego: Academic Press.


Carstensen, L.L., Isaacowitz, D.M., & Charles, S.T. (1999). Taking time seriously: A theory of socioemotional selectivity. American Psychologist, 54, 165-181.

Socioemotional selectivity theory claims that the perception of time plays a fundamental role in the selection and pursuit of social goals. According to the theory, social motives fall into 1 of 2 general categories-those related to the acquisition of knowledge and those related to the regulation of emotion. When time is perceived as open-ended, knowledge-related goals are prioritized. In contrast, when time is perceived as limited, emotional goals assume primacy. The inextricable association between time left in life and chronological age ensures age-related differences in social goals. Nonetheless, the authors show that the perception of time is malleable, and social goals change in 20-83 yr olds when time constraints are imposed. The authors argue that time perception is integral to human motivation and suggest potential implications for multiple subdisciplines and research interests in social, developmental, cultural, cognitive, and clinical psychology.

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