Subscribe: Emotion - Vol 9, Iss 6
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Preview: Emotion - Vol 9, Iss 6

Emotion - Vol 17, Iss 5

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

Last Build Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2017 04:00:46 GMT


Monkeys preferentially process body information while viewing affective displays.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Despite evolutionary claims about the function of facial behaviors across phylogeny, rarely are those hypotheses tested in a comparative context—that is, by evaluating how nonhuman animals process such behaviors. Further, while increasing evidence indicates that humans make meaning of faces by integrating contextual information, including that from the body, the extent to which nonhuman animals process contextual information during affective displays is unknown. In the present study, we evaluated the extent to which rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) process dynamic affective displays of conspecifics that included both facial and body behaviors. Contrary to hypotheses that they would preferentially attend to faces during affective displays, monkeys looked for longest, most frequently, and first at conspecifics’ bodies rather than their heads. These findings indicate that macaques, like humans, attend to available contextual information during the processing of affective displays, and that the body may also be providing unique information about affective states. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Genetic and environmental influences on emotion regulation: A twin study of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression.

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:00:00 GMT

Previous studies have established that personality traits related to emotionality are moderately heritable. However, the relative heritability of the strategies people use to regulate emotions is unknown. The present study compared the magnitude of additive genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental influences on 2 commonly used emotion regulation strategies: cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. In 743 twin pairs (1,486 twins), we replicated previous estimates of heritability of neuroticism (a2 = .41). Furthermore, cognitive reappraisal was significantly less heritable and more influenced by nonshared environment (a2 = .20; e2 = .80) than either neuroticism or suppression (a2 = .35; e2 = .65), another emotion regulation strategy. Finally, Cholesky decomposition modeling suggested that while there were common genetic and environmental influences on neuroticism, reappraisal and suppression, there were also significant nonshared environmental influences common between reappraisal and adaptive emotional functioning after controlling for neuroticism and suppression. These findings highlight that different aspects of emotional processing, even the use of different emotion regulation strategies, are differentially heritable. The importance of the nonshared environmental influences specific to reappraisal and adaptive emotional functioning speaks to the potential impact of social context, social partners, and psychosocial interventions on reappraisal habits. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The whole is not the sum of its parts: Specific types of positive affect influence sleep differentially.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Given the known detrimental effects of poor sleep on an array of psychological and physical health processes, it is critical to understand the factors that protect sleep, especially during times of stress when sleep particularly suffers. Positive affect (PA) arises as a variable of interest given its known associations with health and health behaviors and its ability to buffer stress. In 2 studies, we examined which types of PA (distinguished by arousal level and trait/state measurement) were most beneficial for sleep and whether these associations varied depending on the stress context. In Study 1, college students (N = 99) reported on their PA and sleep during the week of a major exam. In Study 2, 2 weeks of daily PA and sleep data were collected during a period with no examinations in a similar sample of students (N = 83). Results indicated that high trait vigor was tied to better sleep efficiency and quality, especially during high stress. Trait calm was generally unhelpful to sleep, and was related negatively to sleep duration. State calm, on the other hand, interacted with stress in Study 2 to predict more efficient day-to-day sleep on days with higher average stress. These findings illustrate the importance of considering arousal level, affect duration, and the stress context in studies of PA and health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The pleasure of making a difference: Perceived social contribution explains the relation between extraverted behavior and positive affect.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Why are trait extraversion and extraverted behaviors both associated with greater positive affect? Across 3 studies, we examined whether 2 aspects of social experience—perceived social contribution and social power—mediate the relation between extraversion and positive affect. Study 1 (N = 205) showed that trait measures of social contribution and power mediated the relation between trait extraversion and trait positive affect. Study 2 (N = 78) showed that state social contribution and power helped to explain the greater levels of state positive affect reported by participants who were instructed to enact extraverted behaviors. Finally, Study 3 (N = 62) showed that social contribution and power mediated the relation between natural fluctuations in extraverted behavior and positive affect states in daily life. In all 3 studies, multiple-mediator models showed that social contribution, but not power, independently mediated the relations that trait and state extraversion had with positive affect. This suggests that perceptions of positive influence—more so than a general sense of power—help to explain why extraverts and extraverted moments are happier. We link these findings to emerging trends in the study of personality dynamics and the potential benefits of acting “out of character.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The impact of testimony on children’s moralization of novel actions.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

What leads children to moralize actions that cause no apparent harm? We hypothesized that adults’ verbal instruction (“testimony”), as well as emotions such as disgust, would influence children’s moralization of apparently harmless actions. To test this hypothesis, 7-year-old children were asked to render moral judgments of novel, seemingly victimless, body-directed or nature-directed actions after being exposed to adults’ testimony or to an emotional induction. Study 1 demonstrated that children became more likely to judge actions as “wrong” upon being verbally presented with testimony about disgust or anger—but not upon being directly induced to feel disgusted. Study 2 established that principle-based testimony is an even more powerful source of moralization, and additionally found long-term retention of newly formed moral beliefs. These studies also indicated that children frequently lack introspective insight into the sources of their newly acquired moral reactions; they often invoked welfare-based concerns in their explanations regardless of experimental condition. In sum, this research demonstrates that children rapidly and enduringly moralize entirely unfamiliar, apparently innocuous actions upon exposure to a diverse array of morally relevant testimony. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

With a little help for our thoughts: Making it easier to think for pleasure.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Can people enjoy thinking if they set their mind to it? Previous work suggests that many people do not enjoy the deliberate attempt to have pleasurable thoughts. We suggest that deliberately thinking for pleasure requires mental resources that people are either unwilling or unable to devote to the task. If so, then people should enjoy pleasant thoughts that occur unintentionally more than pleasant thoughts that occur intentionally. This hypothesis was confirmed in an experience sampling study (Study 1) in which participants were contacted 4 times a day for 7 days and asked to rate what they had been thinking about. In Studies 2–5 we experimentally manipulated how easy it was for people to engage in pleasurable thought when given the goal of doing so. All participants listed topics they would enjoy thinking about; then some were given a simple “thinking aid” that was designed to make this experience easier. Participants who received the aid found the experience easier and enjoyed it more. The findings suggest that thinking for pleasure is cognitively demanding, but that a simple thinking aid makes it easier and more enjoyable. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Do positive spontaneous thoughts function as incentive salience?

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

The present work explores the theoretical relationship between positive spontaneous thoughts and incentive salience—a psychological property thought to energize wanting and approach motivation by rendering cues that are associated with enjoyment more likely to stand out to the individual when subsequently encountered in the environment (Berridge, 2007). We reasoned that positive spontaneous thoughts may at least be concomitants of incentive salience, and as such, they might likewise mediate the effect of liking on wanting. In Study 1, 103 adults recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk reported on key aspects of 10 everyday activities. As predicted, positive spontaneous thoughts mediated the relationship between liking an activity in the past and wanting to engage in it in the future. In Study 2, 99 undergraduate students viewed amusing and humorless cartoons and completed a thought-listing task, providing experimental evidence for the causal effect of liking on positive spontaneous thoughts. In Study 3, we tested whether positive spontaneous thoughts play an active role in energizing wanting rather than merely co-occurring with (inferred) incentive salience. In that experiment involving 80 undergraduates, participants who were led to believe that their spontaneous thoughts about a target activity were especially positive planned to devote more time to that activity over the coming week than participants who received no such information about their spontaneous thoughts. Collectively, these findings suggest that positive spontaneous thoughts may play an important role in shaping approach motivation. Broader implications and future directions in the study of positive spontaneous thoughts are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Affect from mere perception: Illusory contour perception feels good.

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Can affect be evoked by mere perception? Earlier work on processing fluency, which manipulated the dynamics of a running perceptual process, has shown that efficient processing can indeed trigger positive affect. The present work introduces a novel route by not manipulating the dynamics of an ongoing perceptual process, but by blocking or allowing the whole process in the first place. We used illusory contour perception as one very basic such process. In 5 experiments (total N = 422), participants briefly (≤100 ms) viewed stimuli that either allowed illusory contour perception, so-called Kanizsa shapes, or proximally identical control shapes that did not allow for this process to occur. Self-reported preference ratings (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) and facial muscle activity (Experiment 3) showed that participants consistently preferred Kanizsa over these control shapes. Moreover, even within Kanizsa shapes, those that most likely instigated illusory contour perception (i.e., those with the highest support ratio) were liked the most (Experiment 5). At the same time, Kanizsa stimuli with high support ratios were objectively and subjectively the most complex, rendering a processing fluency explanation of this preference unlikely. These findings inform theorizing in perception about affective properties of early perceptual processes that are independent from perceptual fluency and research on affect about the importance of basic perception as a source of affectivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

The devil is in the details: Comparisons of episodic simulations of positive and negative future events.

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Over the past decade, psychologists have devoted considerable attention to episodic simulation—the ability to imagine specific hypothetical events. Perhaps one of the most consistent patterns of data to emerge from this literature is that positive simulations of the future are rated as more detailed than negative simulations of the future, a pattern of results that is commonly interpreted as evidence for a positivity bias in future thinking. In the present article, we demonstrate across two experiments that negative future events are consistently simulated in more detail than positive future events when frequency of prior thinking is taken into account as a possible confounding variable and when level of detail associated with simulated events is assessed using an objective scoring criterion. Our findings are interpreted in the context of the mobilization-minimization hypothesis of event cognition that suggests people are especially likely to devote cognitive resources to processing negative scenarios. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Maternal anxiety predicts attentional bias towards threat in infancy.

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Although cognitive theories of psychopathology suggest that attention bias toward threat plays a role in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety, there is relatively little evidence regarding individual differences in the earliest development of attention bias toward threat. The current study examines attention bias toward threat during its potential first emergence by evaluating the relations between attention bias and known risk factors of anxiety (i.e., temperamental negative affect and maternal anxiety). We measured attention bias to emotional faces in infants (N = 98; 57 male) ages 4 to 24 months during an attention disengagement eye-tracking paradigm. We hypothesized that (a) there would be an attentional bias toward threat in the full sample of infants, replicating previous studies; (b) attentional bias toward threat would be positively related to maternal anxiety; and (c) attention bias toward threat would be positively related to temperamental negative affect. Finally, (d) we explored the potential interaction between temperament and maternal anxiety in predicting attention bias toward threat. We found that attention bias to the affective faces did not change with age, and that bias was not related to temperament. However, attention bias to threat, but not attention bias to happy faces, was positively related to maternal anxiety, such that higher maternal anxiety predicted a larger attention bias for all infants. These findings provide support for attention bias as a putative early mechanism by which early markers of risk are associated with socioemotional development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Two roads diverged: Distinct mechanisms of attentional bias differentially predict negative affect and persistent negative thought.

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT

Attentional biases to threatening stimuli have been implicated in various emotional disorders. Theoretical approaches often carry the implicit assumption that various attentional bias measures tap into the same underlying construct, but attention itself is not a unitary mechanism. Most attentional bias tasks—such as the dot probe (DP)—index spatial attention, neglecting other potential attention mechanisms. We compared the DP with emotion-induced blindness (EIB), which appears to be mechanistically distinct, and examined the degree to which these tasks predicted (a) negative affect, (b) persistent negative thought (i.e., worry, rumination), and (c) each other. The 2 tasks did not predict each other, and they uniquely accounted for negative affect in a regression analysis. The relationship between EIB and negative affect was mediated by persistent negative thought, whereas that between the DP and negative affect was not, suggesting that EIB may be more intimately linked than spatial attention with persistent negative thought. Experiment 2 revealed EIB to have a favorable test–retest reliability. Together, these findings underscore the importance of distinguishing between attentional bias mechanisms when constructing theoretical models of, and interventions that target, particular emotional disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)