Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Anxiety disorders are the most frequently-diagnosed psychological disorder among older adults, with the exception of cognitive disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most prevalent anxiety disorders of older adults. However, the actual experience of worry, the hallmark symptom of GAD, is not well-understood among older adults. In the present study, older and younger adults participated in an experimental induction of worry or pleasant recall. After controlling for baseline age differences, older and younger adults did not differ in their ratings of worry intensity during the worry induction. An age difference in the experience of worry was found such that, younger adults reported greater anxiety following the worry induction compared to older adults. Younger adults experienced greater heart rates and reported greater arousal than older adults during both the worry and pleasant recall inductions. Thus, older adults may experience less anxiety and lower arousal during worry compared to younger adults. The implications of these findings for our understanding of worry among different age groups are discussed. Future examinations of the role of physiological arousal in older adult worry are needed.
Gould, Christine E., "Effects of a Worry Induction on Heart Rate, Emotion and Self-reported Arousal in Younger and Older Adults" (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 4722.