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Emotional valence and arousal interact in attentional control

Jefferies, L.N., Smilek, D., Eich, E. and Enns, J.T. (2008) Emotional valence and arousal interact in attentional control. Psychological Science, 19 (3). pp. 290-295.

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A recent study demonstrated that observers' ability to identify targets in a rapid visual sequence was enhanced when they simultaneously listened to happy music. In the study reported here, we examined how the emotion-attention relationship is influenced by changes in both mood valence (negative vs. positive) and arousal (low vs. high). We used a standard induction procedure to generate calm, happy, sad, and anxious moods in participants. Results for an attentional blink task showed no differences in first-target accuracy, but second-target accuracy was highest for participants with low arousal and negative affect (sad), lowest for those with strong arousal and negative affect (anxious), and intermediate for those with positive affect regardless of their arousal (calm, happy). We discuss implications of this valence-arousal interaction for the control of visual attention.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2008 Association for Psychological Science
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