Dr. Isaacowitz’s research focuses on the interplay between cognitive processes, particularly visual attention, and emotion throughout adulthood and old age. He uses eye-tracking technology as well as physiological measures to study attentional biases that may facilitate individual and age differences in emotional regulation.
Having your eyes tracked is a noninvasive and unique experience. The process involves watching a series of images on a computer monitor while a camera records the location and movements of your eyes. The eye-tracker sits under the computer screen and is able to identify your head, pupil, and corneal reflection which the software then uses to measure and record your eye movements. The photograph below displays the typical setup for a participant in an eye-tracking experiment.
There appear to be meaningful differences between individuals with different personality profiles and between individuals of different ages in happiness and well-being. For example, optimistic individuals appear happier than their more pessimistic peers, whereas older individuals have been shown in recent research to show surprisingly high levels of well-being compared to their younger counterparts.
Dr. Isaacowitz’s primary research interest involves investigating the psychological mechanisms underlying these individual and age differences.In particular, he is interested in the role of attention in the processing of emotional information, and how preferences and biases in emotional processing can produce differences in affect and well-being.
Current projects are exploring the individual and age differences in attention to stimuli of positive and negative emotional valence, as well as the effects of such biases on health-relevant memory and behavior. For more information on the specific equipment and procedures used in the lab, please see the ‘Methods’ section.