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


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.

Download full-text


Available from: Norbert Schwarz, Apr 02, 2015
  • Source
    • "The aim of this study was to examine the influence of induced joy on fifth graders performance in a grammar task. According to the first hypothesis one might have expected induced joy would facilitate children's performance in solving grammar problems by increasing reliance on general knowledge structures (Bless et al., 1996). Our results confirmed this hypothesis. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This research examined whether induced joy influences fifth graders' performance in literacy tasks. Children were asked to recall a joyful experience, used as a joy induction, before completing either a grammar (Study 1) or textual comprehension task (Study 2). The grammar task involved understanding at the surface level and retrieval of appropriate declarative and procedural knowledge, but limited elaboration unlike the textual comprehension task, which tackled inference generation. By differentiating tasks based on depth of processing required for completion we aimed at testing the validity of two concurrent hypotheses: that of a facilitating effect and that of a detrimental effect of induced joy. Compared to controls, joy induced children showed better performance on the grammar task - specifically children with lower language ability. No differences across groups emerged as a function of joy induction on the text comprehension task. Results are discussed with respect to emotion effects on cognition.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Cognition and Emotion
    • "For example, research has shown that the promotion focus is associated with a greater reliance on heuristics (Friedman & Förster, 2001) whereas the prevention focus is associated with a greater reliance on analytical reasoning (Friedman & Förster, 2000). Research has also shown that states of eagerness have been found to encourage the reliance on internal rather than external inputs of information, whereas states of vigilance result in the opposite pattern (Bless, Mackie, & Schwarz, 1992, Bless, Schwarz, et al., 1996). Finally, research has shown that a strong promotion focus is related to a preference for speed over accuracy in task performance , whereas a strong prevention focus has been linked to the opposite trade-off (Förster, Higgins, & Bianco, 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For over a decade, moral psychologists have been actively researching the processes underlying moral judgments that are made intuitively without reference to an action's concrete harms or injustice, such as the well-known case of nonprocreative, consensual incest. We suggest that the reason some judge such scenarios as wrong (using intuitive feelings) and others do not (using deliberative reasons) is due to an important motivational distinction. Consistent with this view, across 7 studies, we demonstrate that negative judgments of such moral scenarios are more intense when processed in the promotion focus compared to the prevention focus, and that this is due to differences in whether eager (intuitive feelings) versus vigilant (deliberative reasons) means are employed in judging these moral wrongs. By examining both boundary conditions and possible underlying mechanisms for regulatory focus differences in moral judgment intensity, we expand our understanding of the differences between promotion and prevention regarding how proscriptive judgments are processed, while integrating these differences with existing theories in moral psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of Experimental Psychology General
    • "In contrast, negative affect results in bottom-up, i.e., more systematic and elaborate processing. It was shown that negative valence encourages more thorough and critical thinking (Schwarz and Bless, 1991), activates an analytical processing strategy (Bless et al., 1996), and promotes a complete and correct use of structured decision protocols (Elsbach and Barr, 1999). It should be stressed, however, that high-arousal negative emotions inhibit information processing (Finucane, 2011), thus creating a boundary condition. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate decision-processing effects of incidental emotions in managerial decision-making situations. Design/methodology/approach - A complex multi-attribute, multi-alternative decision task related to international human resources management is used as a research vehicle. The data are obtained by means of an electronic information board. Findings - Happiness and anger cause the decision maker to process less decision-relevant information, whereas fear activates more detail-oriented processing. The results are explained within the valence model and cognitive-appraisal framework. Research limitations/implications - A boundary condition of the study is the level of induced emotions. Processing effects of extremely high levels of emotions are not examined, which necessarily limits the generalizability of the findings. Also, the experiment focusses on the decision-processing effects of single isolated emotions extracted by manipulations; future research needs to examine decision-making implications of an entire emotion episode, which is likely to contain emotion mixtures. Practical implications - For managers, this study demonstrates the importance of being mindful of how incidental emotional states can bias choice processing in complex managerial decisions. Originality/value - This study extends earlier organizational research by focussing on decisionmaking consequences of emotion, rather than those of mood or stress. It brings together research on incidental emotions and process-tracing methodologies, thereby allowing for more direct assessment of the observed effects. Decision-processing consequences of emotion are shown to persist throughout a content-rich managerial decision task without being neutralized by an intensive cognitive engagement.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of Managerial Psychology
Show more