Emotions are embodied registrations of value and urgency. Such registrations occur simultaneously in multiple systems, providing multiple windows on the process. The cognitive consequences of emotion provide one such window.
The aim i s to learn how the information from the value component of affective reactions (registrations of goodness, badness) direct thinking and other cognitive processes. Research in the prior period of support found that emotion turns on and off many of the textbook phenomena of cognitive psychology. Through collaboration with a cognitive psychologist, proposed research builds on this discovery. In behavioral experiments, we examine emotional influences on human performance on cognitive tasks involving false memories, priming, reasoning, categorization, and implicit learning. To isolate the processes involved, experiments vary moods and emotions and examine cultural influences in cross-cultural studies. A second goal is to learn how the urgency or importance of events (registered as affective reactions of arousal) govern what people remember. Through collaboration with a biological psychologist, proposed research build on research done mostly on animals, concerning how emotional events gain priority in long term memory. We will examine how emotional memories can become indelible by experiments involving emotional stimuli, mild stress tasks, and administration of memory-modulating drugs (e.g., epinephrine, propranolol). The proposed research is thus focused on the two basic components of emotional reactions - valence and arousal. The question is what role does each of these affective dimensions play in how people think and learn and what they remember. Findings to date show that thoughts tinged with affect are compelling and memorable. The proposed research takes the next step to examine the processes by which this occurs, processes that are fundamental to the guidance of everyday thought and behavior as well as to the disabling conditions of mental illness from which many Americans suffer. Understanding affective valence is essential for attacking the conditions of depression and chronic anxiety and the insistent feelings of loss and danger them painful and confusing. This research seeks to open a new window on how the arousal dimension of affect controls what people remember. It will be critical for attacking posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because these appear to be the processes responsible for the debilitating re-experience of trauma. Such problems know no economic or social boundaries. Reducing their cost in productivity, public resources, and well-being awaits investigation of these cognitive consequences of emotion.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Simmons, Janine M
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University of Virginia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Trammell, Janet P; Clore, Gerald L (2014) Does stress enhance or impair memory consolidation? Cogn Emot 28:361-74
Huntsinger, Jeffrey R; Isbell, Linda M; Clore, Gerald L (2014) The affective control of thought: malleable, not fixed. Psychol Rev 121:600-18
Clore, Gerald L; Ortony, Andrew (2013) Psychological Construction in the OCC Model of Emotion. Emot Rev 5:335-343
Storbeck, Justin (2012) Performance costs when emotion tunes inappropriate cognitive abilities: implications for mental resources and behavior. J Exp Psychol Gen 141:411-6
Hunsinger, Matthew; Isbell, Linda M; Clore, Gerald L (2012) Sometimes happy people focus on the trees and sad people focus on the forest: context-dependent effects of mood in impression formation. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 38:220-32
Zadra, Jonathan R; Clore, Gerald L (2011) Emotion and perception: the role of affective information. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci 2:676-685
Clore, Gerald L (2011) Psychology and the Rationality of Emotion. Mod Theol 27:325-338
Storbeck, Justin; Clore, Gerald L (2011) Affect influences false memories at encoding: evidence from recognition data. Emotion 11:981-9
Huntsinger, Jeffrey R; Sinclair, Stacey; Dunn, Elizabeth et al. (2010) Affective regulation of stereotype activation: it's the (accessible) thought that counts. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 36:564-77
Huntsinger, Jeffrey R; Clore, Gerald L; Bar-Anan, Yoav (2010) Mood and global-local focus: priming a local focus reverses the link between mood and global-local processing. Emotion 10:722-6

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