Trait and state negative affect interactions moderate inhibitory control performance in emotionally loaded conditions

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Abstract

Following the framework that controlled performance is dependent upon cognitive and emotional processes which are inherently inter-linked, effects of trait and state negative affect (NA) on inhibitory control (IC) were studied in two experiments using an emotional day-night task (EDNT) - an inhibition based decision-making task embedded with emotional content. It was hypothesized that the effects of processing negatively loaded stimuli would depend on trait levels of negative and positive affects, particularly in conditions that entail IC. In Experiment 1, EDNT performance was compared with performance of an emotionally loaded control task that required to perform a dominant response rather than to inhibit it. In Experiment 2, EDNT performance was compared with an emotionally loaded control task that required performing an alternative rule which did not involve inhibiting the dominant response. Results of both Experiments showed that participants high on NA trait reactivity showed improved performance while processing 'sad' content, only in the inhibitory task and not in either of the control tasks. Results point to an interaction of trait and state factors in IC, and highlight the notion that heightened NA may sub-serve inhibition in sad contexts, which require counter-intuitive operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-101
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank The Israel Science Foundation grant #1518 awarded to Ronny Geva and to thank Mary Kushlevitz and Janice Elijah from the Ashkelon academic college psychology lab for their assistance in gathering these data.

Keywords

  • Day-night task
  • Emotion & cognition
  • Emotional context
  • Emotional stroop
  • Inhibitory control
  • Negative affect
  • Rule learning
  • Selective attention

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