In spite of previous evidence regarding the function of national songs as a contextual stimulus, their effect on the emotional state of older adults living with different levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms has not be been examined. Following the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, we examined the emotional effects of listening to happy national songs (songs of Independence Day) and sad national songs (Memorial Day songs) on young (N = 144, mean age = 29.4) and older adults (N = 132, mean age = 68.5). Respondents were exposed to happy or sad national songs, and completed measures of exposure to missile attacks, related PTSD symptoms, and positive and negative emotions. Sad national songs were related to higher negative affect among young adults who were lower on PTSD symptoms, but not among their older counterparts. In contrast, sad national songs were related to higher negative affect among older adults who were higher on PTSD symptoms, but not among their young counterparts. These findings support the strength and vulnerability model, as they demonstrate that relative to young adults, older adults are generally more capable to withstand negative stimuli, yet are more sensitive to negative stimuli when they suffer from chronic vulnerability, as in the case of higher level of PTSD symptoms.
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- national music
- positive and negative affects
- posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms
- strength and vulnerability model