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Emotion. 2011 Dec;11(6):1358-67. doi: 10.1037/a0025611. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Attentional consequences of pregoal and postgoal positive affects.

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Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0348, USA.


Decades of research have suggested that all positive affective states broaden attention. Recent studies have found that positive affects high in approach motivation narrow attention, whereas positive affects low in approach motivation broaden attention. However, these studies were limited because they used only affective pictures to manipulate positive affect. The pictures, rather than the affective states created by them, may have caused individuals to focus on the emotional details of the picture, and this attentional focus may have caused the narrowing of attentional scope. Moreover, no experiment has yet to examine both low and high approach-motivated positive affect within the same individuals in the same study. The current experiments manipulated pregoal (high approach) and postgoal (low approach) positive states by giving participants the opportunity to win money on a game. Results revealed that pregoal positive affect caused a narrowing of attention, whereas postgoal positive affect caused a broadening of attention.

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