The Role of Affective Flexibility in Human Development and Its Contribution to Long-Term Developmental Adaptation

In the proposed project, we plan to investigate the interplay between short-term variability and long-term change in affective functioning from adolescence to old age. We propose that affective flexibility, the capacity of the affective system to adjust to changing contexts, serves as a relay that links short-term within-person variability in affective functioning to long-term developmental adaptation, indicated, for example, by changes in psychological and physical well-being, health, social integration, or educational and professional adjustment. We maintain that facets of affective flexibility can be characterized with regard to valence and arousal, and that these facets are differentially adaptive during different phases of the life span. The aim of the proposed research is to investigate these claims and to contribute new insight into the phenomenon of affective flexibility, in particular into how it manifests at the behavioral, physiological, and experiential level, and how it develops over time in people of different ages. To achieve these goals, we propose a three-stage investigation: The first stage is concerned with the analysis of existing longitudinal data of the Multi-Method Ambulatory Assessment (MMAA) Project. Based on dynamic system theory, special emphasis will be placed on the development and refinement of new approaches to the analysis of affective flexibility across different time scales. For the second stage, we propose a new experimental study that will overcome limitations of the MMAA data through implementation of well controlled experimental manipulations of affective contexts, provision of a higher temporal resolution for the measurement of affective flexibility, and better controlling for confounding factors. For the third stage [which is contingent on a positive evaluation of a renewal proposal after 36 months and will thus only briefly be sketched in the present submission], we propose an additional longitudinal experience sampling wave which will allow investigation into associations between short-term flexibility and long-term developmental adaptation throughout a period of up to 12 years. Through a unique combination of cross-sectional and longitudinal data (about 400 individuals between the ages of 10 and 90+ dependent on full funding), new data-analytic tools, and the combination of a field study and an experimental design, we anticipate important new insights into the role of affective flexibility in human development and its contribution to long-term developmental adaptation.

Völkle, Manuel Prof. Dr. (Details) (Psychological Methods)

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of Project
Start date: 01/2017
End date: 11/2019

Last updated on 2020-25-11 at 12:19

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