Friday, February 16, 2018

Emotions and Cognitive Functioning

This column by the Hechinger Report examined both current and past research on the topic of the relationship between affect and cognition. Potential implications in the classroom are covered, including deficits and advantages to classroom learning dependent on students’ moods.

1.) Emotions such as feeling sad or happy may affect how students learn, asserts researcher Caitlin Mills, who co-authored a recent study on the topic. This study found that watching something aimed at inducing feelings of sadness yielded better reading comprehension than watching something intended to make viewers feel happy. In this study, the most significant finding was that the sad group outperformed the happy group on deep-reasoning questions.

Mills, C., Wu, J., & D’Mello, S. (2017). Being sad is not always bad: The influence of affect on expository text comprehension. Dicsourse Processes, 20(1).

2.) This study, which examined the relationship between mood and global versus local visual processing, found that individuals in sad moods were less likely than those in happier moods to use an accessible global concept to guide attempts to reproduce a drawing from memory. Individuals in sad moods were less likely than those in happier moods to classify figures on the basis of global features.

Gasper, K. & Clore, G. L. (2002). Attending to the big picture: Mood and global versus local processing of visual information. Psychological Science, 13(1), 34-40. httpsL//

3.) This paper, which examined the relationship between feeling and thinking as well as between affect and cognition, reviewed the traditional and current psychological theories linking affect to social thinking and behavior. The results found that negative affect promotes a more accommodative, vigilant, and externally focused thinking strategy. The important of these findings is evident through enhancing research on affect-cognition theories. The practical implications of negative affect promoting improved social thinking and performance in a number of fields is examined.

Forgas, J. P. (2017). Can sadness be good for you? Australian Psychol, 52(1), 3–13. doi:10.1111/ap.12232.

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