Being bad isn't always good: affective context moderates the attention bias toward negative information.
Research has demonstrated that people automatically devote more attention to negative information than to positive information. The authors conducted 3 experiments to test whether this bias is attenuated by a person's affective context. Specifically, the authors primed participants with positive and negative information using traditional (e.g., subliminal semantic priming) and nontraditional (e.g., social interactions) means and measured the amount of attention they allocated to positive and negative information. With both event-related brain potentials (Experiment 1) and the Stroop task (Experiments 2 and 3), results suggest that the attention bias to negative information is attenuated or eliminated when positive constructs are made accessible. The implications of this result for other biases to negative information and for the self-reinforcing nature of emotional disorders are discussed.
Smith, NK; Larsen, JT; Chartrand, TL; Cacioppo, JT; Katafiasz, HA; Moran, KE
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