The emotional stability of elders with tai chi experience in the sequential risk-taking task

Psych J. 2019 Dec;8(4):491-502. doi: 10.1002/pchj.279. Epub 2019 Mar 18.


The present study investigated the difference of emotional stability between elders with long-term tai chi experience and elders in a control group during the sequential risk-taking task. Twenty-eight tai chi practitioners (age = 67.36 ± 5.91 years, exercise years = 9.23 ± 4.19) and 28 control participants (age = 65.21 ± 3.55 years, other physical exercise without meditation component) participated in the experiment. Participants were asked to open a series of boxes consecutively and decided when to stop. Each box contained a reward, except for one, which contained a "devil." This box would eliminate the participant's score in the trial. Once participants stopped, both collected gains and missed chances were revealed. Then, participants rated how they felt on a 9-point scale from extreme regret to extreme relief. Additionally, participants filled out the Chinese version of the Beck Depression Inventory, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale Version 11, the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, and the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. The tai chi group showed a higher meditation level, stronger emotional stability, and less risk propensity (all ps < .05) than the control group. In the tai chi group, meditation level was positively correlated with emotional stability (r = -.47, p < .01). Moreover, subjective emotion was negatively correlated with subsequent behavior (tai chi: β = -.44, p < .001; control: β = -.27, p < .001). Subjective emotion rating entirely mediated the relationship between objective outcome and subsequent behavioral change in the control group, whereas it partially mediated such relationship in the tai chi group. The current cross-sectional study found a difference of behavior and feeling between elders with long-term tai chi experience and elders in the control group, which suggests that long-term tai chi experience could enhance elders' emotional stability and reduce their risk propensity during the sequential risk-taking task.

Keywords: elders; emotional stability; meditation; risk taking; tai chi.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale
  • China
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tai Ji*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*