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Andrew Chung, Karen Arnell; Dispositional affect predicts attentional and conceptual breadth: Individual difference evidence for the importance of arousal and valence interactions. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):688. doi: 10.1167/17.10.688.
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Abstract 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) can predict attentional breadth (using both the global-local Navon letter task and the hierarchical shape task) and conceptual breadth (using both the Remote Associates Test and an object categorization task), with no mood manipulations or cues. For all four tasks, results showed a valence-activation interaction. Participants low in activation (arousal) and high in positive affect showed the greatest cognitive breadth, and participants high in activation and high in positive affect showed the least cognitive breadth. Participants low in positive affect showed intermediate breadth that was not influenced by activation. In contrast to existing theories of cognitive breadth that highlight the importance of valence, or motivational intensity or arousal alone, the present results suggest that the combination of activation and valence is key to predicting individual differences in both attentional and conceptual breadth such that cognitive breadth decreases with activation, but only for those with high positive affect.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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