Exploration of development requires the use of research designs and process-oriented methodologies that can capture daily fluctuations within individuals, systematic changes within individuals, and differences between individuals (Nesselroade, 1991). We examine the stress-affect relationship in this way to assess how the relationship between daily stress and negative affect (NA) as well as the relationship between daily stress and positive affect (PA) differs between individuals and changes over time depending on age and stress differences.
Participants (N = 966) completed daily “burst” assessments of stress, NA, and PA. Three-level multi-level models depicted how cross-sectional age, within-person age changes, and global stress differences impact the daily stress-affect relationship.
Findings illustrate that cross-sectional age and the aging process uniquely buffer the stress-NA relationship whereas global stress exacerbates it. Furthermore, older adults as well as adults with low global stress experience a weaker relationship between daily stress and PA as they age, but midlife adults and adults with high global stress experience a stronger relationship.
These results depict differences in aging trajectories for both midlife and older adults and thus inform intervention and preventative care strategies aimed toward promoting stress regulation.