Approaching novel thoughts: Understanding why elation and boredom promote associative thought more than distress and relaxation

Karen Gasper, Brianna L. Middlewood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research indicates that an affective state's valence (positive/negative), orientation (approach/avoidance), and activation level (activated/deactivated) can influence people's ability to make creative associations. Unfortunately, how these features influence associative thought has not been fully tested because researchers typically do not examine deactivated states. In three studies, respondents in either elated (positive, approach, activated), relaxed (positive, avoidance, deactivated), bored (negative, approach, deactivated), or distressed (negative, avoidance, activated) states completed measures of associative thought. Consistent with the orientation hypothesis, respondents in approach-oriented states (elated/bored) performed better on two measures of associative thought than those in avoidance-oriented states (distressed/relaxed). These effects stemmed from the approach states promoting a desire for new experiences, as sensation seeking mediated these results (Study 3). The data indicate that not only can deactivated states alter thought, but their effect depends on whether they are associated with approaching or avoiding new experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-57
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume52
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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