‘Emotional intelligence’ sharpens at 60s

Updated: Jan 03, 2011, 14:00 PM IST

Washington: Psychologists from the University of California, Berkeley have found that older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when watching heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows.

However, they’re better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to the research.

The research team, led by UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson, tracked how our emotional strategies and responses change as we age.

Their findings support the theory that emotional intelligence and cognitive skills can actually sharpen as we enter our 60s, giving older people an advantage in the workplace and in personal relationships.

"Increasingly, it appears that the meaning of late life centers on social relationships and caring for and being cared for by others. Evolution seems to have tuned our nervous systems in ways that are optimal for these kinds of interpersonal and compassionate activities as we age," Levenson said.

The findings of the first study were published in the journal, Psychology and Aging.

The second study was published in the July issue of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.