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Emotion publishes significant contributions to the study of emotion from a wide range of theoretical traditions and research domains. Emotion includes articles that advance knowledge and theory about all aspects of emotional processes, including reports o

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Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association

Awe and scientific explanation.


Past research has established a relationship between awe and explanatory frameworks, such as religion. We extend this work, showing (a) the effects of awe on a separate source of explanation: attitudes toward science, and (b) how the effects of awe on attitudes toward scientific explanations depend on individual differences in theism. Across 3 studies, we find consistent support that awe decreases the perceived explanatory power of science for the theistic (Study 1 and 2) and mixed support that awe affects attitudes toward scientific explanations for the nontheistic (Study 3). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Happy all the time? Affect, resources, and time use.


When examined at the level of activities, people spend more time in activities associated with more negative affect (NA), suggesting that affect may not influence time use. However, when the normal time frames of activities such as work or eating are considered, people may spend relatively more time in activities they find more enjoyable. The present study examined time use between and within activities, using multilevel models, to further explain time use. Working women (N = 98) reported on time use, affect, and resources associated with 18 different activities using the day reconstruction method. Across activities, higher NA was associated with more time spent in that activity, an effect driven partially by work. However, within activities, higher NA but especially higher positive affect and more resource growth was associated with more time spent in that activity by a particular woman. Individuals who derive more affective and resource value from an activity devote more time to it. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Effects of cognitive control training on the dynamics of (mal)adaptive emotion regulation in daily life.


Cognitive control plays a key role in both adaptive emotion regulation, such as positive reappraisal, and maladaptive emotion regulation, such as rumination, with both strategies playing a major role in resilience and well-being. As a result, cognitive control training (CCT) targeting working memory functioning may have the potential to reduce maladaptive emotion regulation and increase adaptive emotion regulation. The current study explored the effects of CCT on positive reappraisal ability in a lab context, and deployment and efficacy of positive appraisal and rumination in daily life. A sample of undergraduates (n = 83) was allocated to CCT or an active control condition, performing 10 online training sessions over a period of 14 days. Effects on regulation of affective states in daily life were assessed using experience sampling over a 7-day posttraining period. Results revealed a positive association between baseline cognitive control and self-reported use of adaptive emotion regulation strategies, whereas maladaptive emotion regulation strategies showed a negative association. CCT showed transfer to working memory functioning on the dual n-back task. Overall, effects of CCT on emotion regulation were limited to reducing deployment of rumination in low positive affective states. However, we did not find beneficial effects on indicators of adaptive emotion regulation. These findings are in line with previous studies targeting maladaptive emotion regulation but suggest limited use in enhancing adaptive emotion regulation in a healthy sample. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Perceptions of variability in facial emotion influence beliefs about the stability of psychological characteristics.


Beliefs about the malleability versus stability of traits (incremental vs. entity lay theories) have a profound impact on social cognition and self-regulation, shaping phenomena that range from the fundamental attribution error and group-based stereotyping to academic motivation and achievement. Less is known about the causes than the effects of these lay theories, and in the current work the authors examine the perception of facial emotion as a causal influence on lay theories. Specifically, they hypothesized that (a) within-person variability in facial emotion signals within-person variability in traits and (b) social environments replete with within-person variability in facial emotion encourage perceivers to endorse incremental lay theories. Consistent with Hypothesis 1, Study 1 participants were more likely to attribute dynamic (vs. stable) traits to a person who exhibited several different facial emotions than to a person who exhibited a single facial emotion across multiple images. Hypothesis 2 suggests that social environments support incremental lay theories to the extent that they include many people who exhibit within-person variability in facial emotion. Consistent with Hypothesis 2, participants in Studies 2–4 were more likely to endorse incremental theories of personality, intelligence, and morality after exposure to multiple individuals exhibiting within-person variability in facial emotion than after exposure to multiple individuals exhibiting a single emotion several times. Perceptions of within-person variability in facial emotion—rather than perceptions of simple diversity in facial emotion—were responsible for these effects. Discussion focuses on how social ecologies shape lay theories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Interpersonal emotional behaviors and physical health: A 20-year longitudinal study of long-term married couples.


Objectively coded interpersonal emotional behaviors that emerged during a 15-min marital conflict interaction predicted the development of physical symptoms in a 20-year longitudinal study of long-term marriages. Dyadic latent growth curve modeling showed that anger behavior predicted increases in cardiovascular symptoms and stonewalling behavior predicted increases in musculoskeletal symptoms. Both associations were found for husbands (although cross-lagged path models also showed some support for wives) and were controlled for sociodemographic characteristics (age, education) and behaviors (i.e., exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption) known to influence health. Both associations did not exist at the start of the study, but only emerged over the ensuing 20 years. There was some support for the specificity of these relationships (i.e., stonewalling behavior did not predict cardiovascular symptoms; anger behavior did not predict musculoskeletal symptoms; neither symptom was predicted by fear nor sadness behavior), with the anger-cardiovascular relationship emerging as most robust. Using cross-lagged path models to probe directionality of these associations, emotional behaviors predicted physical health symptoms over time (with some reverse associations found as well). These findings illuminate longstanding theoretical and applied issues concerning the association between interpersonal emotional behaviors and physical health and suggest opportunities for preventive interventions focused on specific emotions to help address major public health problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

(De)coupling of our eyes and our mind’s eye: A dynamic process perspective on attentional bias.


We aimed to illuminate the theorized, yet empirically elusive, connection between covert and overt attentional processes subserving attentional biases (AB). We found that covert and overt attentional processes were each expressed dynamically, fluctuating from moment-to-moment between phases of (over)engagement and phases of avoidance of threat stimuli. The key features of the temporal dynamics of covert and overt attentional processes were significantly correlated. Moreover, the real-time, dynamic expressions of overt and covert attentional processes were significantly coupled from trial-to-trial; and voluntary inhibition of overt attention decoupled their connection in time. In contrast to this dynamic process perspective on AB, when quantified through the decades-old paradigm conceptualizing AB as a static trait-like phenomenon, covert and overt attentional processes demonstrated (seemingly) no association and poor psychometrics. We discuss the implications of the findings for better understanding the nature of AB, its measurement, bio-psycho-behavioral correlates, and clinical modification. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Emotional aftereffects: When emotion impairs subsequent picture recognition.


Emotional stimuli induce a state of natural selective attention and receive preferential processing by the brain. While this enables the organism to detect and respond swiftly to life-threatening or—sustaining stimuli, research using variants of the attentional blink paradigm has revealed that this advantage may come at the cost of processing other stimuli in a picture stream. In these studies, participants have to actively search for a target within the stream. However, it has also been shown that the active task set may exert a considerable influence on the outcome in an attentional blink scenario. Accordingly, the present series of studies was designed to test whether proactive emotional cost effects occur in an experimental context that does not implement an active search task set and in which all viewed stimuli are of equal relevance. Toward this end, a recognition memory paradigm was utilized in which participants viewed rapidly presented sequences of emotional and neutral images. Immediately afterward, they had to decide whether a probe stimulus had occurred in the sequence or not. Across 3 studies, images were better remembered when they had been presented after neutral as compared with emotional images. This was the case after both positive and negative emotional images and regardless of whether participants had to memorize all or only nonemotional stimuli. These findings speak to the robustness of proactive emotional cost effects and link recent research examining emotion-induced blindness to classic observations regarding emotional interference in memory tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Early social fear predicts kindergarteners’ socially anxious behaviors: Direct associations, moderation by inhibitory control, and differences from nonsocial fear.


Although social and nonsocial fear are discernable as early as preschool, little is known about their distinct associations with developmental outcomes. For example, fear has been identified as a predictor of social anxiety problems, but no work has examined whether social and nonsocial fear make independent contributions to risk. We investigated the extent to which early social and nonsocial fear were associated with socially anxious behaviors during kindergarten. To do this, we identified distinct trajectories of social and nonsocial fear across toddlerhood and preschool. Only social fear was associated with socially anxious behaviors at ages 2 and 5. Because the ability to regulate fear contributes to the degree to which fearful children are at risk for anxiety problems, we also tested whether an early developing aspect of self-regulation modulated associations between early fear and kindergarten socially anxious behaviors. Specifically, we tested whether inhibitory control differentially modulated associations between early levels of social and nonsocial fear and socially anxious behaviors during kindergarten. Associations between trajectories of early social fear and age 5 socially anxious behaviors were moderated by individual differences in inhibitory control. Consistent with previous research showing associations between overcontrol and anxiety symptoms, more negative outcomes were observed when stable, high levels of social fear across childhood were coupled with high levels of inhibitory control. Results suggest that the combination of social fear and overcontrol reflect a profile of early risk for the development of social inhibition and social anxiety problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Fear generalization gradients in visuospatial attention.


Fear learning can be adaptively advantageous, but only if the learning is integrated with higher-order cognitive processes that impact goal-directed behaviors. Recent work has demonstrated generalization (i.e., transfer) of conditioned fear across perceptual dimensions and conceptual categories, but it is not clear how fear generalization influences other cognitive processes. The current study investigated how associative fear learning impacts higher-order visuospatial attention, specifically in terms of attentional bias toward generalized threats (i.e., the heightened assessment of potentially dangerous stimuli). We combined discriminative fear conditioning of color stimuli with a subsequent visual search task, in which targets and distractors were presented inside colored circles that varied in perceptual similarity to the fear-conditioned color. Skin conductance responses validated the fear-conditioning manipulation. Search response times indicated that attention was preferentially deployed not just to the specific fear-conditioned color, but also to similar colors that were never paired with the aversive shock. Furthermore, this attentional bias decreased continuously and symmetrically from the fear-conditioned value along the color spectrum, indicating a generalization gradient based on perceptual similarity. These results support functional accounts of fear learning that promote broad, defensive generalization of attentional bias toward threat. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Can’t take my eyes off of you: Tendency to maintain cognitive activation of significant other representations.


Attachment is related to behaviors, including contact maintenance/proximity seeking, and to the keeping of the attachment figure physically, visually, or mentally accessible. In a series of experiments, we observed an analogous behavior in a simple laboratory task in the absence of any stress-related manipulations. Participants performed an easy, choice reaction time (RT) task (often emotionally neutral) on pictures (or names) of significant others versus other persons, both familiar and unfamiliar to them. Results showed that participants took longer to press the key, which started the next trial, when the current trial involved the picture (or name) of their significant other. This effect was observed among parents who responded to their children’s pictures, people who are in a romantic relationship, and young adults who responded to the name of a parent; it was only eliminated when participants adopted an analytic approach (i.e., judged the person’s age). These results indicate that attachment-related behavioral tendencies, associated with keeping the representation of the significant other active, may be easily invoked in a simple task, even without any apparent stress manipulation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Cultural modes of expressing emotions influence how emotions are experienced.


The brain’s mapping of bodily responses during emotion contributes to emotional experiences, or feelings. Culture influences emotional expressiveness, that is, the magnitude of individuals’ bodily responses during emotion. So, are cultural influences on behavioral expressiveness associated with differences in how individuals experience emotion? Chinese and American young adults reported how strongly admiration- and compassion-inducing stories made them feel, first in a private interview and then during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As expected, Americans were more expressive in the interview. Although expressiveness did not predict stronger reported feelings or neural responses during fMRI, in both cultural groups more-expressive people showed tighter trial-by-trial correlations between their experienced strength of emotion and activations in visceral–somatosensory cortex, even after controlling for individuals’ overall strength of reactions (neural and felt). Moreover, expressiveness mediated a previously described cultural effect in which activations in visceral–somatosensory cortex correlated with feeling strength among Americans but not among Chinese. Post hoc supplementary analyses revealed that more-expressive individuals reached peak activation of visceral–somatosensory cortex later in the emotion process and took longer to decide how strongly they felt. The results together suggest that differences in expressiveness correspond to differences in how somatosensory mechanisms contribute to constructing conscious feelings. By influencing expressiveness, culture may therefore influence how individuals know how strongly they feel, what conscious feelings are based on, or possibly what strong versus weak emotions “feel like.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The impact of negative emotions on self-concept abstraction depends on accessible information processing styles.


Research suggests that anger promotes global, abstract processing whereas sadness and fear promote local, concrete processing (see Schwarz & Clore, 2007 for a review). Contrary to a large and influential body of work suggesting that specific affective experiences are tethered to specific cognitive outcomes, the affect-as-cognitive-feedback account maintains that affective experiences confer positive or negative value on currently dominant processing styles, and thus can lead to either global or local processing (Huntsinger, Isbell, & Clore, 2014). The current work extends this theoretical perspective by investigating the impact of discrete negative emotions on the self-concept. By experimentally manipulating information processing styles and discrete negative emotions that vary in appraisals of certainty, we demonstrate that the impact of discrete negative emotions on the spontaneous self-concept depends on accessible processing styles. When global processing was accessible, individuals in angry (negative, high certainty) states generated more abstract statements about themselves than individuals in either sad (Experiment 1) or fearful (Experiment 2; negative, low certainty) states. When local processing was made accessible, however, the opposite pattern emerged, whereby individuals in angry states generated fewer abstract statements than individuals in sad or fearful states. Together these studies provide new insights into the mechanisms through which discrete emotions influence cognition. In contrast to theories assuming a dedicated link between emotions and processing styles, these results suggest that discrete emotions provide feedback about accessible ways of thinking, and are consistent with recent evidence suggesting that the impact of affect on cognition is highly context-dependent. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The consequences of suppressing affective displays in romantic relationships: A challenge and threat perspective.


Emotion suppression is one of the most studied topics in emotion regulation. However, little is known about how response-focused regulation strategies unfold in romantic relationships from the perspectives of both emotion regulators and their interaction partners. Using the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of challenge and threat as an organizing framework, 2 experiments examined effects of expressive suppression (vs. expression) on affective, cognitive, physiological, and behavioral processes in regulators and their romantic partners. In Experiment 1 a crowd-sourced sample of individuals currently in a romantic relationship simulated scenarios in which the self or partner engaged in response-focused emotion regulation (expression or suppression of affective displays). Suppressors expected worse outcomes compared with expressers. However, individuals on the receiving end of suppression (suppression targets) did not differ from expression targets. Experiment 2 then examined romantic couples’ responses to suppression/expression in vivo. Regulators were randomly assigned to suppress/express affective displays and partners (targets) were unaware of the manipulation. Suppressors and suppression targets exhibited more malignant physiological responses (increased vascular resistance and elevated cortisol reactivity) during an emotional conversation and reduced intimacy behavior as measured with a novel touch task. Consequences for relationship processes are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Affect influences feature binding in memory: Trading between richness and strength of memory representations.


Research has shown that long-term memory representations of objects are formed as a natural product of perception even without any intentional memorization. It is not known, however, how rich these representations are in terms of the number of bound object features. In particular, because feature binding rests on resource-limited processes, there may be a context-dependent trade-off between the quantity of stored features and their memory strength. The authors examined whether affective state may bring about such a trade-off. Participants incidentally encoded pictures of real-world objects while experiencing positive or negative affect, and the authors later measured memory for 2 features. Results showed that participants traded between richness and strength of memory representations as a function of affect, with positive affect tuning memory formation toward richness and negative affect tuning memory formation toward strength. These findings demonstrate that memory binding is a flexible process that is modulated by affective state. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Attention training through gaze-contingent feedback: Effects on reappraisal and negative emotions.


Reappraisal is central to emotion regulation but its mechanisms are unclear. This study tested the theoretical prediction that emotional attention bias is linked to reappraisal of negative emotion-eliciting stimuli and subsequent emotional responding using a novel attentional control training. Thirty-six undergraduates were randomly assigned to either the control or the attention training condition and were provided with different task instructions while they performed an interpretation task. Whereas control participants freely created interpretations, participants in the training condition were instructed to allocate attention toward positive words to efficiently create positive interpretations (i.e., recruiting attentional control) while they were provided with gaze-contingent feedback on their viewing behavior. Transfer to attention bias and reappraisal success was evaluated using a dot-probe task and an emotion regulation task which were administered before and after the training. The training condition was effective at increasing attentional control and resulted in beneficial effects on the transfer tasks. Analyses supported a serial indirect effect with larger attentional control acquisition in the training condition leading to negative attention bias reduction, in turn predicting greater reappraisal success which reduced negative emotions. Our results indicate that attentional mechanisms influence the use of reappraisal strategies and its impact on negative emotions. The novel attention training highlights the importance of tailored feedback to train attentional control. The findings provide an important step toward personalized delivery of attention training. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Detecting transient emotional responses with improved self-report measures and instructions.


Psychological research often yields null results on self-reported emotion as measured by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988), even when using manipulations that might intuitively be expected to be emotionally impactful. Three studies reported here support the hypothesis that changes in self-reported negative emotion may be detected more sensitively when discrete emotions are measured rather than by either PANAS NA or a measure created by combining discrete emotions, and when participants were instructed to report how they felt during an emotion-eliciting event versus how they felt afterward. In Study 1, emotion was manipulated with disgusting photographs, in Study 2, with recall of social exclusion/inclusion, and in Study 3, with reminders of personal mortality. Discussion focuses on implications for detecting emotional changes in psychological research, and the inadvisability of interpreting null results on an insensitive measure as indicating that emotional changes did not occur. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)