The Best Years of Your Life
Hidden Brain
Mon, June 26, 2023
Podchat Summary

Episode Description: The Impact of Time Horizons on Aging and Emotions

In this episode of Hidden Brain, psychologist Laura Carstensen shares her groundbreaking research on aging and its impact on our emotions and behavior. Contrary to the common negative perception of aging, Carstensen's findings challenge this view and shed light on the positive aspects of growing older.

Carstensen's research reveals that as people age, they tend to experience fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions compared to their younger counterparts. This phenomenon, known as the "positivity effect," is driven by the fact that older individuals have a shorter time horizon, leading them to prioritize meaningful relationships and experiences.

One fascinating aspect of Carstensen's research is the observation that as people age, their social networks may become smaller, but they become more emotionally meaningful. This shift in focus allows older individuals to cultivate deeper connections and derive greater satisfaction from their relationships.

Furthermore, Carstensen's research highlights that older individuals have a greater emphasis on the present moment and are less concerned with the future. This shift in time perspective has significant implications for shaping emotions and behavior at every stage of life.

Ultimately, Carstensen's findings have profound implications for understanding happiness and well-being. By recognizing the role of time horizons in shaping our emotions and behavior, we can learn to make the most of our time and relationships as we age.

Original Show Notes

Aging isn’t just a biological process. Our outlook and emotions also change as we age, often in ways that boost our well-being. Psychologist Laura Carstensen unpacks the science behind this surprising finding, and shares what all of us can learn from older people.

Have you ever been torn about whether to pursue a passion project? In the latest episode of Hidden Brain+, novelist and physician Abraham Verghese tells us about the person who helped him navigate this dilemma in his own life. Try Hidden Brain+ for free on the Apple Podcasts app or at

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