Modeling intraindividual dynamics using stochastic differential equations:age differences inaffect regulation

Julie Wood, Zita Oravecz, Nina Vogel, Lizbeth Benson, Sy Miin Chow, Pamela Cole, David E. Conroy, Aaron L. Pincus, Nilam Ram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: Life-span theories of aging suggest improvements and decrements in individuals' ability to regulate affect. Dynamic process models, with intensive longitudinal data, provide new opportunities to articulate specific theories about individual differences in intraindividual dynamics. This paper illustrates a method for operationalizing affect dynamics using a multilevel stochastic differential equation (SDE) model, and examines how those dynamics differ with age and trait-level tendencies to deploy emotion regulation strategies (reappraisal and suppression). Method: Univariate multilevel SDE models, estimated in a Bayesian framework, were fit to 21 days of ecological momentary assessments of affect valence and arousal (average 6.93/day, SD = 1.89) obtained from 150 adults (age 18-89 years)-specifically capturing temporal dynamics of individuals' core affect in terms of attractor point, reactivity to biopsychosocial (BPS) inputs, and attractor strength. Results: Older age was associated with higher arousal attractor point and less BPS-related reactivity. Greater use of reappraisal was associated with lower valence attractor point. Intraindividual variability in regulation strategy use was associated with greater BPS-related reactivity and attractor strength, but in different ways for valence and arousal. Discussion: The results highlight the utility of SDE models for studying affect dynamics and informing theoretical predictions about how intraindividual dynamics change over the life course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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