Mroczek et al., 2013. Emotional reactivity and mortality: Longitudinal findings from the VA Normative Aging Study


Objectives. Evidence suggests a predictive association between emotion and mortality risk. However, no study has examined dynamic aspects of emotion in relation to mortality. This study used an index of emotional reactivity, defined as changes in positive or negative affect in response to daily stressors, to predict 10-year survival.

Methods. An 8-day daily diary study was conducted in 2002 on 181 men aged 58–88. Multilevel models were employed to estimate emotional reactivity coefficients, which were subsequently entered into a Cox proportional hazards model to predict mortality.

Results. Results indicated that positive emotional reactivity, that is, greater decreases in positive affect in response to daily stressors, increased mortality risk. Negative emotional reactivity did not predict mortality.

Discussion. Findings highlight the potential importance of dynamic aspects of positive affect in prediction of physical health outcomes such as mortality.