Too busy to feel neutral: Reducing cognitive resources attenuates neutral affective states

Karen Gasper, Joy Hackenbracht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Researchers often assume that neutral affect is a relatively affectless state, in that it is low in intensity and requires little, if any, cognitive resources to be maintained. In contrast to these assumptions, we examined the hypothesis that reducing one’s cognitive resources would lessen neutral affective experiences. Respondents (1) viewed negative, neutral, or positive photos, (2) completed a task that was or was not cognitively demanding, and (3) rated their negative, neutral, and positive feelings. As predicted, reducing people’s cognitive resources lessened their neutral affect after viewing neutral stimuli, lessened their negative affect after viewing negative stimuli, but did not affect their positive affect after viewing positive stimuli. Contrasting prior assumptions regarding neutral affect, these findings suggest that neutral states possess felt intensity and require cognitive resources to be maintained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-466
Number of pages9
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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