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Preview: Emotion - Vol 9, Iss 6

Emotion - Vol 16, Iss 6

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

Negatively valenced expectancy violation predicts emotionality: A longitudinal analysis.


We hypothesized that negatively valenced expectancy violations about the quality of 1’s life would predict negative emotionality. We tested this hypothesis in a 4-wave longitudinal study of breast cancer survivors. The findings showed that higher levels of negatively valenced expectancy violation, at earlier time points, were associated with greater negative emotionality, at later time points. Implications of the findings are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The effect of negative affect on cognition: Anxiety, not anger, impairs executive function.


It is often assumed that negative affect impairs the executive functions that underlie our ability to control and focus our thoughts. However, support for this claim has been mixed. Recent work has suggested that different negative affective states like anxiety and anger may reflect physiologically separable states with distinct effects on cognition. However, the effects of these 2 affective states on executive function have never been assessed. As such, we induced anxiety or anger in participants and examined the effects on executive function. We found that anger did not impair executive function relative to a neutral mood, whereas anxiety did. In addition, self-reports of induced anxiety, but not anger, predicted impairments in executive function. These results support functional models of affect and cognition, and highlight the need to consider differences between anxiety and anger when investigating the influence of negative affect on fundamental cognitive processes such as memory and executive function. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Does leader-affective presence influence communication of creative ideas within work teams?


Affective presence is a novel, emotion-related personality trait, supported in experimental studies, concerning the extent to which a person makes his or her interaction partners feel the same way (Eisenkraft & Elfenbein, 2010). Applying this concept to an applied teamwork context, we proposed that team-leader-affective presence would influence team members’ communication of creative ideas. Multilevel modeling analysis of data from a survey study conducted with teams from a consultancy firm confirmed that team-leader-affective presence interacted with team-member creative idea generation to predict inhibition of voicing their ideas. Specifically, withholding of ideas was less likely when team members generated creative ideas and their team leader had higher positive affective presence or lower negative affective presence. These findings contribute to emotion research by showing affective presence as a trait with interpersonal meaning, which can shape how cognition is translated into social behavior in applied performance contexts, such as teamwork in organizations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The importance of context: Three corrections to Cordaro, Keltner, Tshering, Wangchuk, and Flynn (2016).


In their recently published article, “The Voice Conveys Emotion in Ten Globalized Cultures and One Remote Village in Bhutan,” Cordaro, Keltner, Tshering, Wangchuk, and Flynn conclude that certain emotion categories are universally recognized by people around the world, barring illness and measurement error. The impact of Cordaro et al.’s article, like that of all empirical studies, is determined not only by its research findings but also by how the research findings are situated. Accuracy in characterizing the scientific context of new findings is as important as maintaining the highest standards for other aspects of the scientific method. In this regard, we point out three areas of concern in Cordaro et al.’s discussion of past research on remote samples, the use of more discovery-oriented (and less confirmatory) experimental methods in past research, and the use of manipulation checks in past research. Ultimately, a study’s contribution to scientific progress is limited when ambiguities and oversights obscure the real value of its findings. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Beyond pleasure and pain: Facial expression ambiguity in adults and children during intense situations.


According to psychological models as well as common intuition, intense positive and negative situations evoke highly distinct emotional expressions. Nevertheless, recent work has shown that when judging isolated faces, the affective valence of winning and losing professional tennis players is hard to differentiate. However, expressions produced by professional athletes during publicly broadcasted sports events may be strategically controlled. To shed light on this matter we examined if ordinary people’s spontaneous facial expressions evoked during highly intense situations are diagnostic for the situational valence. In Experiment 1 we compared reactions with highly intense positive situations (surprise soldier reunions) versus highly intense negative situations (terror attacks). In Experiment 2, we turned to children and compared facial reactions with highly positive situations (e.g., a child receiving a surprise trip to Disneyland) versus highly negative situations (e.g., a child discovering her parents ate up all her Halloween candy). The results demonstrate that facial expressions of both adults and children are often not diagnostic for the valence of the situation. These findings demonstrate the ambiguity of extreme facial expressions and highlight the importance of context in everyday emotion perception. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Predicting stress from the ability to eavesdrop on feelings: Emotional intelligence and testosterone jointly predict cortisol reactivity.


While emotional intelligence (EI) is recognized as a resource in social interactions, we hypothesized a positive association with stress in socially evaluative contexts. In particular, we expected emotion recognition, the core component of EI, to inflict stress on individuals in negatively valenced interactions. We expected this association to be stronger for status-driven individuals, that is, for individuals scoring high on basal testosterone. In a laboratory experiment, N = 166 male participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993). As expected, EI measured by the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT V2.0; Mayer et al., 2003) predicted higher cortisol reactivity, including slower recovery from stress. The effect was moderated by basal testosterone, such that the association was positive when basal testosterone was high but not when it was low. On the component level of EI, the interaction was replicated for negative emotion recognition. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that EI is associated with higher activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in contexts where social status is at stake, particularly for those individuals who are more status-driven. Thus, the effects of EI are not unequivocally positive: While EI may positively affect the course of social interactions, it also inflicts stress on the emotionally intelligent individuals themselves. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

A flexible influence of affective feelings on creative and analytic performance.


Considerable research shows that positive affect improves performance on creative tasks and negative affect improves performance on analytic tasks. The present research entertained the idea that affective feelings have flexible, rather than fixed, effects on cognitive performance. Consistent with the idea that positive and negative affect signal the value of accessible processing inclinations, the influence of affective feelings on performance on analytic or creative tasks was found to be flexibly responsive to the relative accessibility of different styles of processing (i.e., heuristic vs. systematic, global vs. local). When a global processing orientation was accessible happy participants generated more creative uses for a brick (Experiment 1), successfully solved more remote associates and insight problems (Experiment 2) and displayed broader categorization (Experiment 3) than those in sad moods. When a local processing orientation was accessible this pattern reversed. When a heuristic processing style was accessible happy participants were more likely to commit the conjunction fallacy (Experiment 3) and showed less pronounced anchoring effects (Experiment 4) than sad participants. When a systematic processing style was accessible this pattern reversed. Implications of these results for relevant affect-cognition models are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Dispositional anger and the resolution of the approach–avoidance conflict.


The approach–avoidance conflict is one in which approaching reward brings increased threat while avoiding threat means forgoing reward. This conflict can be uniquely informative because it will be resolved in different ways depending on whether approach (toward) or avoidance (away from) is the stronger motive. Two studies (total N = 191) created a computerized version of this conflict and used the test to examine questions of motivational direction in anger. In Study 1, noise blast provocations increased the frequency of approach behaviors at high levels of trait anger, but decreased their frequency at low levels. In Study 2, a simpler version of the conflict test was used to predict anger in daily life. As hypothesized, greater approach frequencies in the test predicted greater anger reactivity to daily provocations and frustrations. The discussion focuses on the utility of the approach–avoidance conflict test and on questions of motivational direction in anger. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Do unto others or treat yourself? The effects of prosocial and self-focused behavior on psychological flourishing.


When it comes to the pursuit of happiness, popular culture encourages a focus on oneself. By contrast, substantial evidence suggests that what consistently makes people happy is focusing prosocially on others. In the current study, we contrasted the mood- and well-being-boosting effects of prosocial behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for others or for the world) and self-oriented behavior (i.e., doing acts of kindness for oneself) in a 6-week longitudinal experiment. Across a diverse sample of participants (N = 473), we found that the 2 types of prosocial behavior led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than did self-focused and neutral behavior. In addition, we provide evidence for mechanisms explaining the relative improvements in flourishing among those prompted to do acts of kindness—namely, increases in positive emotions and decreases in negative emotions. Those assigned to engage in self-focused behavior did not report improved psychological flourishing, positive emotions, or negative emotions relative to controls. The results of this study contribute to a growing literature supporting the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood. People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Harm mediates the disgust-immorality link.


Many acts are disgusting, but only some of these acts are immoral. Dyadic morality predicts that disgusting acts should be judged as immoral to the extent that they seem harmful. Consistent with this prediction, 3 studies reveal that perceived harm mediates the link between feelings of disgust and moral condemnation—even for ostensibly harmless “purity” violations. In many cases, accounting for perceived harm completely eliminates the link between disgust and moral condemnation. Analyses also reveal the predictive power of anger and typicality/weirdness in moral judgments of disgusting acts. The mediation of disgust by harm holds across diverse acts including gay marriage, sex acts, and religious blasphemy. Revealing the endogenous presence and moral relevance of harm within disgusting-but-ostensibly harmless acts argues against modular accounts of moral cognition such as moral foundations theory. Instead, these data support pluralistic conceptions of harm and constructionist accounts of morality and emotion. Implications for moral cognition and the concept of “purity” are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Childhood negative emotionality predicts biobehavioral dysregulation fifteen years later.


The temperamental trait of negative emotionality (NE) plays an important role in maladaptation among adults experiencing significant life stress. However, the prospective relation between childhood NE and subsequent interrelated behavioral, emotional, and biological dysregulation in later life has not yet been established among children who experience early adversity. Using a longitudinal sample of youth who experienced parental divorce during childhood (N = 160; 53% male; 83% White), we tested the hypothesis that childhood NE would predict physiological, emotional, and behavioral dysregulation 15 years later. NE was assessed by maternal report when youth were between 9 and 12 years old. Fifteen years later, young adults (mean age = 25.55 years) participated in a psychosocial stress task to assess cortisol reactivity and reported on internalizing symptoms and problematic alcohol use. Structural equation modeling revealed that higher childhood NE predicted significantly greater alcohol use, internalizing symptoms, and total cortisol output during a stress task 15 years later. Importantly, these findings held after adjusting for childhood internalizing symptoms. In addition, problematic alcohol use was associated with greater cortisol reactivity and internalizing symptoms. Findings suggest that childhood NE is a critical risk marker for interrelated forms of dysregulation in young adulthood among at-risk youth. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The temporal dynamics of directed reappraisal in high-trait-anxious individuals.


High-trait-anxious (HTA) individuals often experience high levels of negative emotions, signaling potential abnormalities in the down-regulation of negative emotions. In this study, we used event-related potentials to examine whether HTA individuals can effectively use directed reappraisal to down-regulate negative emotions. Participants completed a passive picture-viewing task in which pictures were preceded by audio descriptions of their content. For unpleasant pictures, descriptions were either neutral or negative, whereas for neutral pictures, only neutral descriptions were given. Self-report behavioral results indicated that HTA individuals reported greater unpleasantness for the pictures than did low-trait-anxious (LTA) individuals but revealed no abnormality in decreasing negative emotional experience. Such abnormality, however, did emerge neurally. Analyses focused on the central-parietal late positive potential (LPP), a neural marker of emotion regulation. LTA individuals showed an LPP reduction in response to unpleasant pictures with negative descriptions compared to neutral ones at 400–3000-ms post-picture-onset, indicating effective down-regulation of negative emotions. HTA individuals, however, showed no LPP reduction at 400- to 1,000-ms post picture onset. Instead, they showed an LPP increase in response to unpleasant pictures with negative descriptions compared to neutral ones at 1,000- to 2,000-ms post picture-onset. These abnormal central-parietal LPP patterns not only verify that HTA individuals exhibit ineffective use of directed reappraisal to down-regulate neural responses to unpleasant stimuli, but also reveal an abnormal time-course of directed reappraisal in such individuals. Our findings also suggest that the ineffective use of cognitive reappraisals may contribute to the generally elevated levels of negative emotionality in HTA individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The Valjean effect: Visceral states and cheating.


Visceral states like thirst, hunger, and fatigue can alter motivations, predictions, and even memory. Across 3 studies, we demonstrate that such “hot” states can also shift moral standards and increase dishonest behavior. Compared to participants who had just eaten or who had not yet exercised, hungry and thirsty participants were more likely to behave dishonestly to win a prize. Consistent with the specificity of motivation that is characteristic of visceral states, participants were only more likely to cheat for a prize that could alleviate their current deprived state (such as a bottle of water). Interestingly, this increase in dishonest behavior did not seem to be driven by an increase in the perceived monetary value of the prize. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Insular atrophy and diminished disgust reactivity.


Disgust is an emotion that helps us deal with potential contamination (Rozin & Fallon, 1987). It produces a distinctive facial expression (e.g., wrinkled nose) and a physiological response that is accompanied by strong visceral sensations (e.g., nausea). Given the important role that the anterior insula plays in processing and integrating visceral information (Craig, 2009), it is likely to be centrally involved in disgust. Despite this, few studies have examined the link between insular degeneration and the experience, physiology, and expression of disgust. We studied a group that was heterogeneous in terms of insular damage: 84 patients with neurodegenerative diseases (i.e., frontotemporal dementia, corticobasal syndrome, progressive supranuclear palsy, Alzheimer’s disease) and 29 controls. Subjects viewed films that elicit high levels of disgust and sadness. Emotional reactivity was assessed using self-report, peripheral physiology, and facial behavior. Regional brain volumes (insula, putamen, pallidum, caudate, and amygdala) were determined from structural MRIs using the FreeSurfer method. Results indicated that smaller insular volumes were associated with reduced disgust responding in self-report and physiological reactivity, but not in facial behavior. In terms of the specificity of these findings, insular volume did not predict sadness reactivity, and disgust reactivity was not predicted by putamen, pallidum, and caudate volumes (lower self-reported disgust was associated with smaller amygdala volume). These findings underscore the central role of the insula in the experience and physiology of disgust. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

An exploratory analysis of emotion dynamics between mothers and adolescents during conflict discussions.


Dynamic patterns of influence between parents and children have long been considered key to understanding family relationships. Despite this, most observational research on emotion in parent–child interactions examines global behaviors at the expense of exploring moment-to-moment fluctuations in emotions that are important for relational outcomes. Using recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) and growth curve analysis, this investigation explored emotion dynamics during parent–adolescent conflict interactions, focusing not only on concurrently shared emotional states but also on time-lagged synchrony of parents’ and adolescents’ emotions relative to one another. Mother–adolescent dyads engaged in a 10-min conflict discussion and reported on their satisfaction with the process and outcome of the discussion. Emotions were coded using the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF) and were collapsed into the following categories: negativity, positivity, and validation/interest. RQA and growth curve analyses revealed that negative and positive emotions were characterized by a concurrently synchronous pattern across all dyads, with the highest recurrence rates occurring around simultaneity. However, lower levels of concurrent synchrony of negative emotions were associated with higher discussion satisfaction. We also found that patterns of negativity differed with age: Mothers led negativity in dyads with younger adolescents, and adolescents led negativity in dyads with older adolescents. In contrast to negative and positive emotions, validation/interest showed the time-lagged pattern characteristic of turn-taking, and more highly satisfied dyads showed stronger patterns of time-lagged coordination in validation/interest. Our findings underscore the dynamic nature of emotions in parent–adolescent interactions and highlight the important contributions of these moment-to-moment dynamics toward overall interaction quality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Differential effects of cognitive load on subjective versus motor responses to ambiguously valenced facial expressions.


Valence is a principal dimension by which we understand emotional experiences, but oftentimes events are not easily classified as strictly positive or negative. Inevitably, individuals vary in how they tend to interpret the valence of ambiguous situations. Surprised facial expressions are one example of a well-defined, ambiguous affective event that induces trait-like differences in the propensity to form a positive or negative interpretation. To investigate the nature of this affective bias, we asked participants to organize emotional facial expressions (surprised, happy, sad) into positive/negative categories while recording their hand-movement trajectories en route to each response choice. We found that positivity-negativity bias resulted in differential hand movements for modal versus nonmodal response trajectories, such that when an individual categorized a surprised face according to his or her nonmodal interpretation (e.g., a negatively biased individual selecting a positive interpretation), the hand showed an enhanced spatial attraction to the alternative, modal response option (e.g., negative) in the opposite corner of the computer screen (Experiment 1). Critically, we also demonstrate that this asymmetry between modal versus nonmodal response trajectories is mitigated when the valence interpretations are made under a cognitive load, although the frequency of modal interpretations is unaffected by the load (Experiment 2). These data inform a body of seemingly disparate findings regarding the effect of cognitive effort on affective responses, by showing within a single paradigm that varying cognitive load selectively alters the dynamic motor movements involved in indicating affective interpretations, whereas the subjective interpretations themselves remain consistent across variable cognitive loads. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)(image)