In-emotional blindness

Published: 26-02-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/rjgpkpk9hd.1
Christina Bermeitinger,
Ryan Hackländer,
Pamela Baess,
Mareike Meinhard


Determining how emotional experience influences attention is a long standing goal of cognitive psychologists. Emotion is often broken down into two main dimensions, arousal and valence. While many theories focus more on the influence of one dimension than the other, the systematic investigation of the independent influences of the two dimensions of emotion on attention has been slow in the coming. In order to examine the relevance of both aspects of emotion and their interplay on attention simultaneously, in the current experiment we induced low (satisfaction) and high (happiness) arousal positive emotions and low (sadness) and high (anger) arousal negative emotions in subjects before having them complete an inattentional blindness (IB) test. In line with theories that focus on the role of valence, we found that negative emotions led to more IB than did positive emotions, and that arousal did not influence attention. Data were from an extended version of the EMO 16 akt (Schmidt-Atzert & Hüppe, 1996), the Affect Grid (Russell, Weiss, & Mendelsohn, 1989), as well as an Inattentional Blindness task. The study comprised a one factorial design including the between-subjects factor “induced emotion” with the five levels happiness (positive valence, high arousal), satisfaction (positive valence, low arousal), neutral emotion (neutral valence, low arousal), sadness (negative valence, low arousal), and anger (negative valence, high arousal). The design can also be described as a 2 (valence: positive vs. negative) x 2 (arousal: high vs. low) design with an additional control group (neutral valence with low arousal). The dependent variables were detection rates of the critical stimuli in trial 3 (i.e., the critical trial) and trial 5 (divided attention trial). The extended EMO 16 akt as well as the Affect Grid were collected before emotion induction (_1), after emotion induction (_2), and after the inattentional blindness task (_3). The inattentional blindness task comprised six trials. The 3rd (critical trial, inattentional trial), 5th (divided attention trial), and 6th (full attention trial) included an unexpected stimulus.