Feeling and Thinking:
The Role of Affect in Social Cognition

Edited by

Joseph P. Forgas
University of New South Wales

Sydney, Australia



List of Contributors  
  - Jim Blascovich, University of California, Santa Barbara - Tory Higgins, Columbia University
  - Herbert Bless, University of Trier - Mark Leary, Wake Forest University
  - Leonard Berkowitz, University of Wisconsin - Leonard Martin, University of Georgia
  - Eric Eich, University of British Columbia - Paula Niedenthal, Indiana University
  - Klaus Fiedler, University of Heidelberg - Carolin Showers, University of Wisconsin
  - Joseph Forgas, University of New South Wales - Craig Smith, Vanderbilt University
  - Dan Gilbert, Harvard University - Robert Zajonc, Stanford University
  - Anthony Greenwald, University of Washington    



Outline Synopsis


Outline Synopsis  

Detailed Contents and Chapter Outlines

Chapter 1. Introduction and a historical overview

Joseph Forgas, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

This chapter will set the scene for the book by providing a brief historical overview of the links between affect and cognition in psychological theorizing. The origins of contemporary approaches to affect and cognition in earlier philosophical treatments, and various psychodynamic and conditioning formulations will be briefly described. This chapter will review the background of recent attempts to link affect and cognition within a unified conceptual system, and some of the early empirical evidence relevant to this enterprise will be reviewed. The communalities between the various theoretical formulations represented in this volume will be highlighted, and the prospects for a comprehensive and integrated theory of affect and cognition will be discussed.

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  Part I - Fundamental Issues: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition

Chapter 2. Nonconscious and Noncognitive Affect

R..B. Zajonc, Stanford University

In this chapter Robert Zajonc returns to the theme of his highly influential paper in 1980 arguing that ‘preferences need no inferences’ almost twenty years later, further developing the argument that affective states can exert an influence on behaviour in the absence of cognition and awareness. This chapter critically reviews recent developments consistent with this view. In particular, Zajonc supports his arguments with neuro-anatomic, neuro-chemical, neuro-physiological, and behavioural evidence. He also offers some new ideas about the neural independence of affect from cognition in the context of neural plasticity.

Chapter 3. Challenge and threat: The interplay of affect and cognition

Jim Blascovich, University of California, Santa Barbara

Jim Blascovich has developed an influential biopsychosocial model of affect and arousal regulation. This chapter will further develop this theory as it applies to social cognitive phenomena and presents the results of a series of recent psychophysiological experiments designed to identify distinct physiological markers associated with affective experiences such as challenge and threat. Specifically, these studies find that during experiences of challenge relatively strong increases in cardiac performance are accompanied by arterial dilation, while during threat relatively weak increases in cardiac performance are accompanied by unchanging or increased arterial constriction. Experimental results also show that a combination of intrapersonal and interpersonal factors, many of them social cognitive in character mediate these responses. The implications of this research for the interaction of affect and cognitive appraisals and resulting motivational states will be discussed.

Chapter 4. Affect and appraisal

Craig A. Smith, Vanderbilt University

The role of cognitive appraisals in interpreting events and generating appropriate affective reactions has been the focus of intensive research by Craig Smith and his collaborators, who are perhaps the major contributors to this influential literature. This chapter will present a new, process model of appraisal which, beyond the structural content of appraisal, attempts to describe the cognitive processes by which emotion-eliciting appraisals are generated. Specifically, schematic processing will be proposed as a mechanism whereby memory representations associated with previous affective experiences can be automatically primed and activated, and through which appraisal information can initiate emotional reactions without conscious, verbally mediated cognitive processing. The chapter emphasizes emotion-related memory structures in understanding appraisal and emotion elicitation, and thus represents a major new development in appraisal theories.

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Part II - The Informational Role of Affect

Chapter 5. Cognitive and Clinical Perspectives on Mood Dependent Memory

Eric Eich, University of British Columbia

Recent years have witnessed a renaissance of research interested in the interplay between cognitive and emotional processes. Much research has centered on mood dependent memory (MDM)—the observation that events experienced in specific mood state are most retrievable in the mood. Eric Eich provides a comprehensive review and integration of this research. He describes two approaches to studying MDM. One approach features laboratory studies involving experimentally induced moods and focuses on cognitive factors that play pivotal roles in the occurrence of mood dependence, whereas the other approach concentrates on clinical studies involving naturally occurring moods. Eich illustrates the advantages in studying MDM using both approaches, and reviews the theoretical implications of MDM research for an integrated understanding of the interplay between affect and cognition.

Chapter 6. Some Conditions Affecting Overcorrection of the Judgment-Distorting Influence of One’s Feelings

Leonard Berkowitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A great deal of research suggests that moods lead to congruent cognitive biases. In contrast, Leonard Berkowitz’s research suggests that there are times when this bias is reversed, that is, when mood actually leads to incongruent cognitive outcomes. Across a wide variety of mood inductions and judgment contexts, Berkowitz’s studies show that when people are highly aware of their feelings or are highly motivated to be accurate, they attempt to "correct for" their mood and consequently make mood-incongruent judgments. The paper concludes with a model of overcorrection and an attempt to reconcile mood-incongruent findings with mood-congruent findings.

Chapter 7. Mood as Input: A Configural View of Mood Effects

Leonard L. Martin, University of Georgia

Most models of mood and cognition treat one effect as basic (eg., mood congruent evaluation) and treat all other effects as exceptions to the rule. Lenny Martin’s mood as input model, in contrast, accounts for a variety of mood effects through a single mechanism (i.e., role fulfilment). He assumes that moods influence evaluations when people ask "what would I feel if…." with the question being filled in with the nature of the target and the specific judgment. An evaluation is rendered subjectively when people compare their current feelings with expected feelings. Favourable evaluations arise to the extent that the person’s feelings are congruent with what would be expected if the target had fulfilled its role, whereas negative evaluations arise to the extent that the person’s feelings are incongruent with what would be expected if the target had fulfilled its role. Martin discusses a number of recent experiments that support his mood-as-input model.

Chapter 8. Affective Forecasting and Durability Bias: The Problem of the Invisible Shield

Dan Gilbert, Harvard University

This chapter argues that the ability to transform, invent, and ignore emotionally relevant information provides an invisible shield against enduring negative affect, but that the invisibility of that shield promotes a durability bias in affective forecasting (eg., how long will you be sad?). Dan Gilbert presents evidence which suggests that people overestimate the duration of their affective reactions to the dissolution of a romantic relationship, the failure to achieve tenure, an electoral defeat, the receipt of negative personality feedback, and rejection by a prospective employer. He also describes studies that suggest that these overestimations are caused by the participants’ failures to recognize prospectively that they would ameliorate negative affect retrospectively. These motivated strategies of dealing with affective information are related to other recent conceptualizations of the affect-cognition relationship represented in this volume.

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Part III - Affect and Information Processing

Chapter 9. Mood and general knowledge structures: Happy moods and their impact on information processing

Herbert Bless, University of Trier, Germany

Why are happy people more likely than sad people to rely on general knowledge structures, such as heuristics and stereotypes, when making judgments? Previous researchers have explained this effect by assuming that happy mood reduces processing motivation or capacity. In this chapter, Herbert Bless argues against this explanation and proposes instead that individuals are more likely to process new information in a bottom-up fashion when the situation is perceived as problematic, which is partially a function of being in a sad mood. In contrast, individuals are more likely to rely on pre-existing general knowledge structures when the situation is perceived as safe, which is partially a function of being in a happy mood. Bless presents a series of recent experiments that support his theoretical position, and integrates his model with other recent processing theories.

Chapter 10. A Connectionist Approach to Understanding the Impact of Mood on Cognitive Functions of Assimilation and Accommodation

Klaus Fiedler, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Klaus Fiedler presents his new, dual-force model of how mood states influence cognitive style and memory performance. Based on the assumption that any cognitive process can be decomposed into two complementary components, conservation and active generation, this model proposes that positive mood states support the second component (inferences, creativity, top-down inferences), whereas negative mood states support the first component (conserving stimulus details, vigilance, sticking to the facts). The processes of accommodation and assimilation is modelled within a connectionist framework and it is shown that the model can explain numerous empirical findings, including enhanced stereotype and priming effects under positive mood; the sensitivity of negative mood subjects to strong and weak arguments in persuasion; constructive memory effects and enhanced generation effects in positive mood; and the accentuation of mood congruence for self-generated information. In addition to providing new, parsimonious interpretations of previous findings, the model makes a number of novel predictions and highlights communalities between existing affect/cognition theories.

Chapter 11. The role of different processing strategies in mediating mood effects on cognition

Joseph P. Forgas, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

This chapter will outline a multi-process model of affect and social cognition, based on a review of the historical and theoretical background of the field, as well as the results of an extensive research program. Specifically, the model attempts to deal with the following questions: What processing strategies are available to people when performing a social judgment? Under what condition are they most likely to be used? What is the role of affect in people's processing preferences? How does affect influence the outcome of social judgments under each of the processing alternatives? The model distinguishes between four alternative processing strategies available to judges: (1) direct access of crystallized judgments, (2) motivated processing in the service of a pre-existing goal, (3) heuristic or simplified processing, and (4) substantive or elaborate processing. The theory also specifies how features of the target, the judge and the situation are likely to influence processing choices. The chapter reviews numerous studies on affective influences on social judgments and decisions, and presents integrative evidence for both the informational and the processing consequences of moods.

Chapter 12. Emotional and Evaluative Effects of Regulatory Focus: Promotion and Prevention as Distinct Motivational Systems

Tory Higgins, Columbia University

According to Tory Higgins’ influential theory, two regulatory systems have a crucial impact on our emotional responses and evaluations. Promotion regulatory focus is concerned with advancement, growth, and accomplishment, whereas prevention regulatory focus is concerned with security, safety, and responsibility. Tory Higgins suggests that emotional responses to goal attainment vary as a function of regulatory focus. As promotion focus increases, goal attainment or non-attainment produces affective responses on the cheerfulness/dejection dimension. When prevention focus increases, affective responses to goal attainment are more likely to vary on the quiescence/agitation dimension. He also found that people with a strong promotion focus are more sensitive to evaluating attitude objects along the cheerfulness-dejection dimension, whereas people with a strong prevention focus are more sensitive to evaluating attitude objects along the quiescence-agitation dimension. The chapter discusses numerous other research findings related to this regulatory model, and integrative links between this theory and other conceptualizations are highlighted.

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Part IV - Affect and Social Knowledge Structures

Chapter 13. Self-Organization in Emotional Contexts

Carolin Showers, University of Wisconsin

Carolin Showers discusses her intriguing work on self-concept organisation and mood. According to her model, there are two types of self-organisation. In compartmentalized self-organisation, the knowledge that is included in any particular category is either uniformly positive or negative; in integrative self-organisation, the knowledge in a category is both positive and negative. In a wide ranging series of experiments, involving experimental, longitudinal, and physiological methodologies, Showers has shown that compartmentalization may be effective for dealing with negative mood and negative beliefs about the self or someone else. It may be an easy and efficient type of organisation. However when compartmentalization breaks down (e.g., when negative self-aspects are important and unavoidable), then it may be worth the effort to integrate positive and negative self-beliefs.

Chapter 14. Prologue to a Unified Theory of Affect, Attitudes, Stereotypes, and Self-Concept

Anthony Greenwald, University of Washington

Tony Greenwald presents an exciting new theory that seeks to unify three of social psychology’s central cognitive constructs - attitude, stereotype, and self-concept. The theory proposes that self-esteem and self-concept distort the semantic space of social objects in two ways. First, social objects that are linked to self are pulled toward the position of self in semantic space. Second, objects that are dissociated from self are repelled from the self’s position in this space. Distortions may occur in the activity, potency, or evaluative semantic dimension, but are most likely to occur in the evaluative (affective) dimension. Greenwald reviews recent findings that support the unified theory.

Chapter 15. Interpersonal Emotions, Social Cognition, and Self-Relevant Thought

Mark Leary, Wake Forest University

Although many emotions may be experienced as a result of either impersonal or interpersonal events, certain affective states occur only as the result of real, anticipated, or imagined interactions with other people (e.g., loneliness, embarrassment, and jealousy). Much theory and research has examined the cognitive processes that precipitate social emotions, but little attention has been devoted to the reciprocal effects of interpersonal emotions on cognition. Mark Leary reviews recent work on the role of social emotions in how people think about themselves and about their relationships with others. He then provides a new theoretical framework for understanding the reciprocal effects of interpersonal emotions, social cognitions, and self-relevant thoughts.

Chapter 16. Emotional response categorization

Paula Niedenthal, Indiana University

Traditional theories of categorization based on perceptual similarity ignore an important basis for conceptual structure: the discrete emotion that a stimulus elicits in the perceiver. In this chapter Paula Niedenthal argues that emotional responses are salient features of stimuli that can be used as the basis of categorization. A series of experiments are summarized, investigating the nature and theoretical characteristics of emotional response categories, and exploring the conditions under which they are used. These studies also show that emotional perceivers are more likely to base their categorization on affective characteristics. Multidimensional scaling analyses showed that emotional categorization is not only tenable, but is also necessary for a complete account of conceptual coherence.

Chapter 17. Integration and conclusions

Joseph P. Forgas, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

The last chapter will present an overview and conceptual integration of the papers presented here. The contributions within each of the four sections of the book will be critically reviewed, and integrative principles capable of linking them will be highlighted. The chapter will also discuss parallel developments in other fields (such as cognitive science, sociology, developmental psychology and clinical psychology) that have implications for an emerging understanding of the affect-cognition interface. Finally, the chapter will also discuss the specific implications of the chapters presented here for a number of substantive areas of research in psychology, and future prospects for affect-cognition research will be outlined.

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