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No evidence that self-rated negative emotion boosts visual working memory precision.


Souza, Alessandra S; Thaler, Theresa; Liesefeld, Heinrich R; Santos, Flávia H; Peixoto, Débora S; Albuquerque, Pedro B (2021). No evidence that self-rated negative emotion boosts visual working memory precision. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 47(2):282-307.

Abstract

Emotion is assumed to change how people process information by modulating attentional focus. Two recent studies (Spachtholz et al., 2014; Xie & Zhang, 2016) reported that self-reported negative emotion boosted the precision with which information was stored in visual working memory. Here we attempted and failed to replicate these findings across seven studies conducted in four countries. Emotion was induced by presenting emotional images (negative, neutral, and positive) before each trial of a visual working memory task (six experiments) or the images were combined with emotional music during a 3-min induction phase (one experiment) occurring prior to the memory task. In the visual working memory task, participants stored (emotionally neutral) continuously varying colored dots or oriented triangles. At test, the color or orientation of a probed item was reproduced. Although participants reported changes in their emotional state commensurate with the manipulations, six experiments showed substantial evidence against changes in visual working memory precision (and quantity) under negative (and positive) emotion in comparison with neutral, whereas one condition, in one study, showed increased precision under both negative and positive emotion compared with neutral. These results challenge the view that emotion modulates visual working memory quality and quantity.

Abstract

Emotion is assumed to change how people process information by modulating attentional focus. Two recent studies (Spachtholz et al., 2014; Xie & Zhang, 2016) reported that self-reported negative emotion boosted the precision with which information was stored in visual working memory. Here we attempted and failed to replicate these findings across seven studies conducted in four countries. Emotion was induced by presenting emotional images (negative, neutral, and positive) before each trial of a visual working memory task (six experiments) or the images were combined with emotional music during a 3-min induction phase (one experiment) occurring prior to the memory task. In the visual working memory task, participants stored (emotionally neutral) continuously varying colored dots or oriented triangles. At test, the color or orientation of a probed item was reproduced. Although participants reported changes in their emotional state commensurate with the manipulations, six experiments showed substantial evidence against changes in visual working memory precision (and quantity) under negative (and positive) emotion in comparison with neutral, whereas one condition, in one study, showed increased precision under both negative and positive emotion compared with neutral. These results challenge the view that emotion modulates visual working memory quality and quantity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Behavioral Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:18 Jan 2021 14:51
Last Modified:22 Jan 2021 04:02
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0096-1523
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/xhp0000891
PubMed ID:33252967
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100019_169302
  • : Project TitleThe interaction of perception and language in memory: How do labels shape visual working memory?

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