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Karen Arnell, Gillian Dale, Mary MacLean; Individual differences in affect and personality predict attentional and conceptual breadth. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):549. doi: 10.1167/14.10.549.
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Several studies have investigated the effect of induced mood state on attentional and cognitive breadth. Early studies concluded that inducing a positive mood state broadened attention and cognition, while inducing a negative mood state narrowed these. However, recent reports have suggested that when valence and motivational intensity are unconfounded, low motivational intensity promotes cognitive breadth, whereas high motivational intensity promotes cognitive narrowing. Here we examine whether self-reported dispositional affect (using the circumplex affect questionnaire) and approach/avoidance tendency (using the BIS/BAS Scale) can predict attentional breadth (using the global-local Navon letter task) and conceptual breadth (using the Remote Associates Test - RAT), with no mood manipulations or cues. Results showed that low arousal affect was positively associated with both measures of cognitive breadth. In contrast, approach motivation (BAS-Drive) was positively associated with a narrow attentional focus on the global-local task. Neither pleasant nor unpleasant valence (nor their difference) predicted any measure of cognitive breadth or focus. Overall, the results suggest the importance of arousal, motivational intensity and approach, as predictors of breadth of cognition. Finding that dispositional measures can also predict breadth of cognition suggests that affect and personality may underlie previously observed trait-like consistency in global-local bias.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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