Friday, January 05, 2007
Being happy broadens your scope of attention.
Rowe et. al. have measured the "effect of positive mood states ... in two different cognitive domains: semantic search (remote associates task) and visual selective attention (Eriksen flanker task). In the conceptual domain, positive affect enhanced access to remote associates, suggesting an increase in the scope of semantic access. In the visuospatial domain, positive affect impaired visual selective attention by increasing processing of spatially adjacent flanking distractors, suggesting an increase in the scope of visuospatial attention. During positive states, individual differences in enhanced semantic access were correlated with the degree of impaired visual selective attention. These findings demonstrate that positive states, by loosening the reins on inhibitory control, result in a fundamental change in the breadth of attentional allocation to both external visual and internal conceptual space."