Mood and the Use of Scripts: Does a Happy Mood Really Lead to Mindlessness?

Psychologisches Institut, Universität Heidelberg, Germany.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 11/1996; 71(4):665-79. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.4.665
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The authors tested whether happy moods increase, and sad moods decrease, reliance on general knowledge structures. Participants in happy, neutral, or sad moods listened to a "going-out-for-dinner" story. Happy participants made more intrusion errors in recognition than did sad participants, with neutral mood participants falling in between (Experiments 1 and 2). Happy participants outperformed sad ones when they performed a secondary task while listening to the story (Experiment 2), but only when the amount of script-inconsistent information was small (Experiment 3). This pattern of findings indicates higher reliance on general knowledge structures under happy rather than sad moods. It is incompatible with the assumption that happy moods decrease either cognitive capacity or processing motivation in general, which would predict impaired secondary-task performance.

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Available from: Norbert Schwarz, Apr 02, 2015
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    • "For instance, low compared to high-fluent stimuli are liked less, judged as being false, toxic, or less famous and funny (Leder, Bär, & Topolinski, 2013; Topolinski, 2014; Topolinski, Lindner, & Freudenberg, 2014; Topolinski & Reber, 2010a, 2010b; Topolinski & Strack, 2010). Such a phasic negative affect, independent from fluency, has been shown to function like negative mood in cognitive tuning, where negative compared to positive affective states inhibit automatic and heuristic processes and induce more systematic and effortful processing (e.g., Bless et al., 1996; Kuhl, 2000; Ruder & Bless, 2003; Baumann & Kuhl, 2002). For instance, phasic negative compared to positive affect, when induced randomly, changing from trial to trial and lasting only for around a second, decreases creative performance (Topolinski & Deutsch, 2012), or inhibits automatic semantic processing (Topolinski & Deutsch, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: The emotion of surprise entails a complex of immediate responses, such as cognitive interruption, attention allocation to, and more systematic processing of the surprising stimulus. All these processes serve the ultimate function to increase processing depth and thus cognitively master the surprising stimulus. The present account introduces phasic negative affect as the underlying mechanism responsible for this switch in operating mode. Surprising stimuli are schema-discrepant and thus entail cognitive disfluency, which elicits immediate negative affect. This affect in turn works like a phasic cognitive tuning switching the current processing mode from more automatic and heuristic to more systematic and reflective processing. Directly testing the initial elicitation of negative affect by surprising events, the present experiment presented high and low surprising neutral trivia statements to N = 28 participants while assessing their spontaneous facial expressions via facial electromyography. High compared to low surprising trivia elicited higher corrugator activity, indicative of negative affect and mental effort, while leaving zygomaticus (positive affect) and frontalis (cultural surprise expression) activity unaffected. Future research shall investigate the mediating role of negative affect in eliciting surprise-related outcomes.
    Frontiers in Psychology 02/2015; 6:134. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00134 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Despite these assumptions about a link between positive affect and heuristic and gist-based processing, there are three classes of challenges to the contention that positive affect promotes memory errors in learning prototypical or semantically related concepts. First, the assumption that positive affect induces reliance on general knowledge is at odds with evidence that positive affect enhances originality and innovative thinking (Isen, 2000). 1 The originality and innovation observed in people in positive mood is likely achieved by less reliance on well-learned, typical ways of thinking, as opposed to the greater reliance posited by Bless et al. (1996). This is because schema-based knowledge tends to routinize thinking and impedes access to unusual cognitive material (Rowe, Hirsh, & Anderson, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Increasing evidence that positive affect enhances associative processing has lent weight to the idea that positive affect increases false memory for information that is thematically interrelated. Using the Deese–Roediger–McDermott paradigm, we examined whether mild positive affect facilitates monitoring processes in modulating false memory for associate words. When participants in the warned condition – in contrast to those in the unwarned condition – were overtly warned about possible false recognition of the critical lure, we found that positive affect, compared to neutral affect, significantly enhanced monitoring through a warning and reduced false recognition. Signal detection analyses suggest that when a warning is provided, positive affect enhances sensitivity to discriminate list items from critical lures, but it does not shift the overall decision criterion. Taken together, we conclude that positive affect facilitates the effect of a warning in reducing false memories for semantic associates.
    The Journal of Positive Psychology 12/2014; 10(3):1-11. DOI:10.1080/17439760.2014.950177 · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    • "Thus, it is not surprising to find that happy people show mindlessness to intrusion errors (Bless, Clore, Schwarz, Golisano & Rabe, 1996). Those studies suggest that happy people tend to use more effortless processing, to be less sensitive to circumstances, and to detect problematic surroundings less acutely; sad people, however , do exactly the opposite (Bless et al., 1996; Forgas, Laham & Vargas, 2005; Harris & Thoresen, 2006). Thus conceived, as they are supposed to be less sensitive to circumstances, happy people may tend to ignore the harm caused by perpetrators and, be more forgiving toward perpetrators. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examined how individual group status and happiness influence forgiveness. In Study 1, happiness was treated as a trait difference: highly happy people, compared with very unhappy people, were found to be more willing to forgive murderers. More important, an interaction effect between happiness and group status on forgiveness was found, that is, highly happy people tended to be more forgiving when either ingroup or outgroup members were killed; unhappy people, however, tended to be less forgiving about murder when ingroup rather than outgroup members were killed. In Study 2, happiness was treated as an emotional state difference: happiness, rather than sadness, was found to bring greater forgiveness. Moreover, consistent with the interaction effect displayed in Study 1, happy participants tended to forgive more when ingroup or outgroup members were hurt; sad participants tended to forgive less when ingroup members rather than outgroup members were hurt. Implications for connections between happiness, group membership, and forgiveness are discussed.
    Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 12/2014; 56(2). DOI:10.1111/sjop.12185 · 1.29 Impact Factor
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