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Reading / Math task for evoking affective states

Reading / Math task for evoking affective states



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I plan to measure affective states with bio-sensors. For the affective states I will use engagement, confusion, boredom and frustration. For the bio-sensors I will use ECG and skin conductance.

I will do a study with a couple of participants. I'm thinking about either a reading or math task (on a tablet) which the participants should perform. Of course the task should evoke these affective states. Each participant should work for 30-60min.

Are there some standard ways of designing such tasks (i.e. how to evoke the above affective states with reading or math tasks)? Or is there already a reading / math task available in the literature which was used for evoking these affective states?


Affect (psychology)

Affective states are psycho-physiological constructs—meaning, largely, concepts that connect mental and physical processes. According to most current views, they vary along three principal dimensions: valence, arousal, and motivational intensity. [2]

  • Valence is the subjective spectrum of positive-to-negative evaluation of an experience an individual may have had. Emotional valence refers to the emotion's consequences, emotion-eliciting circumstances, or subjective feelings or attitudes. [3]
  • Arousal is objectively measurable as activation of the sympathetic nervous system, but can also be assessed subjectively via self-report.
  • Motivational intensity refers to the impulsion to act [4] the strength of an urge to move toward or away from a stimulus and whether or not to interact with said stimulus. Simply moving is not considered approach (or avoidance) motivation [5]

It is important to note that arousal is different from motivational intensity. While arousal is a construct that is closely related to motivational intensity, they differ in that motivation necessarily implies action while arousal does not. [6]

Affect is sometimes used to mean affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" (APA 2006). [7]

In psychology, affect brings about an organism's interaction with stimuli.

Affect can influence cognitive scope (the breadth of cognitive processes [8] ). Initially, it was thought that positive affects broadened whereas negative affects narrowed cognitive scope. [2] However, evidence now suggests that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden it. The construct of cognitive scope could be valuable in cognitive psychology. [2]

According to a research article about affect tolerance written by psychiatrist Jerome Sashin, "Affect tolerance can be defined as the ability to respond to a stimulus which would ordinarily be expected to evoke affects by the subjective experiencing of feelings." [9] Essentially it refers to one's ability to react to emotions and feelings. One who is low in affect tolerance would show little to no reaction to emotion and feeling of any kind. This is closely related to alexithymia.

"Alexithymia is a subclinical phenomenon involving a lack of emotional awareness or, more specifically, difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and in distinguishing feelings from the bodily sensations of emotional arousal" [10] At its core, alexithymia is an inability for an individual to recognize what emotions they are feeling—as well as an inability to describe them. According to Dalya Samur and colleagues, [11] people with alexithymia have been shown to have correlations with increased suicide rates, [12] mental discomfort, [13] and deaths. [14]

Affect tolerance [15] [16] factors, including anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, and emotional distress tolerance, may be helped by mindfulness. [17] Mindfulness refers to the practice of being hyper aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, and the stimulus of the environment around you—not in an anxiety-inducing way, but in a gentle and pleasant way. Mindfulness has been shown to produce "increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation." [18]

The affective domain represents one of the three divisions described in modern psychology: the other two being the behavioral, and the cognitive. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the "ABC's of psychology", [19] However, in certain views, the cognitive may be considered as a part of the affective, or the affective as a part of the cognitive [20] it is important to note that "cognitive and affective states … [are] merely analytic categories." [21]

"Affect" can mean an instinctual reaction to stimulation that occurs before the typical cognitive processes considered necessary for the formation of a more complex emotion. Robert B. Zajonc asserts this reaction to stimuli is primary for human beings and that it is the dominant reaction for non-human organisms. Zajonc suggests that affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding and be made sooner and with greater confidence than cognitive judgments (Zajonc, 1980).

Many theorists (e.g. Lazarus, 1982) consider affect to be post-cognitive: elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, such affective reactions as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure each result from a different prior cognitive process that makes a variety of content discriminations and identifies features, examines them to find value, and weighs them according to their contributions (Brewin, 1989). Some scholars (e.g. Lerner and Keltner 2000) argue that affect can be both pre- and post-cognitive: initial emotional responses produce thoughts, which produce affect. In a further iteration, some scholars argue that affect is necessary for enabling more rational modes of cognition (e.g. Damasio 1994).

A divergence from a narrow reinforcement model of emotion allows other perspectives about how affect influences emotional development. Thus, temperament, cognitive development, socialization patterns, and the idiosyncrasies of one's family or subculture might interact in nonlinear ways. For example, the temperament of a highly reactive/low self-soothing infant may "disproportionately" affect the process of emotion regulation in the early months of life (Griffiths, 1997).

Some other social sciences, such as geography or anthropology, have adopted the concept of affect during the last decade. In French psychoanalysis a major contribution to the field of affect comes from André Green. [22] The focus on affect has largely derived from the work of Deleuze and brought emotional and visceral concerns into such conventional discourses as those on geopolitics, urban life and material culture. Affect has also challenged methodologies of the social sciences by emphasizing somatic power over the idea of a removed objectivity and therefore has strong ties with the contemporary non-representational theory. [23]

A number of experiments have been conducted in the study of social and psychological affective preferences (i.e., what people like or dislike). Specific research has been done on preferences, attitudes, impression formation, and decision-making. This research contrasts findings with recognition memory (old-new judgments), allowing researchers to demonstrate reliable distinctions between the two. Affect-based judgments and cognitive processes have been examined with noted differences indicated, and some argue affect and cognition are under the control of separate and partially independent systems that can influence each other in a variety of ways (Zajonc, 1980). Both affect and cognition may constitute independent sources of effects within systems of information processing. Others suggest emotion is a result of an anticipated, experienced, or imagined outcome of an adaptational transaction between organism and environment, therefore cognitive appraisal processes are keys to the development and expression of an emotion (Lazarus, 1982).

Affect has been found across cultures to comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The most commonly used measure in scholarly research is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). [24] The PANAS is a lexical measure developed in a North American setting and consisting of 20 single-word items, for instance excited, alert, determined for positive affect, and upset, guilty, and jittery for negative affect. However, some of the PANAS items have been found either to be redundant or to have ambiguous meanings to English speakers from non-North American cultures. As a result, an internationally reliable short-form, the I-PANAS-SF, has been developed and validated comprising two 5-item scales with internal reliability, cross-sample and cross-cultural factorial invariance, temporal stability, convergent and criterion-related validities. [25]

Mroczek and Kolarz have also developed another set of scales to measure positive and negative affect. [26] Each of the scales has 6 items. The scales have shown evidence of acceptable validity and reliability across cultures. [26] [27] [28]

In relation to perception, a type of non-conscious affect may be separate from the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli. A monohierarchy of perception, affect and cognition considers the roles of arousal, attention tendencies, affective primacy (Zajonc, 1980), evolutionary constraints (Shepard, 1984 1994), and covert perception (Weiskrantz, 1997) within the sensing and processing of preferences and discriminations. Emotions are complex chains of events triggered by certain stimuli. There is no way to completely describe an emotion by knowing only some of its components. Verbal reports of feelings are often inaccurate because people may not know exactly what they feel, or they may feel several different emotions at the same time. There are also situations that arise in which individuals attempt to hide their feelings, and there are some who believe that public and private events seldom coincide exactly, and that words for feelings are generally more ambiguous than are words for objects or events. Therefore, non-conscious emotions need to be measured by measures circumventing self-report such as the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT Quirin, Kazén, & Kuhl, 2009).

Affective responses, on the other hand, are more basic and may be less problematic in terms of assessment. Brewin has proposed two experiential processes that frame non-cognitive relations between various affective experiences: those that are prewired dispositions (i.e. non-conscious processes), able to "select from the total stimulus array those stimuli that are causally relevant, using such criteria as perceptual salience, spatiotemporal cues, and predictive value in relation to data stored in memory" (Brewin, 1989, p. 381), and those that are automatic (i.e. subconscious processes), characterized as "rapid, relatively inflexible and difficult to modify. (requiring) minimal attention to occur and. (capable of being) activated without intention or awareness" (1989 p. 381). But a note should be considered on the differences between affect and emotion.

Arousal is a basic physiological response to the presentation of stimuli. When this occurs, a non-conscious affective process takes the form of two control mechanisms: one mobilizing and the other immobilizing. Within the human brain, the amygdala regulates an instinctual reaction initiating this arousal process, either freezing the individual or accelerating mobilization.

The arousal response is illustrated in studies focused on reward systems that control food-seeking behavior (Balleine, 2005). Researchers have focused on learning processes and modulatory processes that are present while encoding and retrieving goal values. When an organism seeks food, the anticipation of reward based on environmental events becomes another influence on food seeking that is separate from the reward of food itself. Therefore, earning the reward and anticipating the reward are separate processes and both create an excitatory influence of reward-related cues. Both processes are dissociated at the level of the amygdala, and are functionally integrated within larger neural systems.

Measuring cognitive scope Edit

Cognitive scope can be measured by tasks involving attention, perception, categorization and memory. Some studies use a flanker attention task to figure out whether cognitive scope is broadened or narrowed. For example, using the letters "H" and "N" participants need to identify as quickly as possible the middle letter of 5 when all the letters are the same (e.g. "HHHHH") and when the middle letter is different from the flanking letters (e.g. "HHNHH"). [29] Broadened cognitive scope would be indicated if reaction times differed greatly from when all the letters were the same compared to when the middle letter is different. [29] Other studies use a Navon attention task to measure difference in cognitive scope. A large letter is composed of smaller letters, in most cases smaller "L"'s or "F"'s that make up the shape of the letter "T" or "H" or vice versa. [30] Broadened cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the larger letter, whereas narrowed cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the smaller letters within the larger letter. [30] A source-monitoring paradigm can also be used to measure how much contextual information is perceived: for instance, participants are tasked to watch a screen which serially displays words to be memorized for 3 seconds each, and also have to remember whether the word appeared on the left or the right half of the screen. [31] The words were also encased in a colored box, but the participants did not know that they would eventually be asked what color box the word appeared in. [31]

Main research findings Edit

Motivation intensity refers to the strength of urge to move toward or away from a particular stimulus. [2]

Anger and fear affective states, induced via film clips, conferred more selective attention on a flanker task compared to controls as indicated by reaction times that were not very different, even when the flanking letters were different from the middle target letter. [2] [29] Both anger and fear have high motivational intensity because propulsion to act would be high in the face of an angry or fearful stimulus, like a screaming person or coiled snake. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on target information. [2] [29] After seeing a sad picture, participants were faster to identify the larger letter in a Navon attention task, suggesting more global or broadened cognitive scope. [2] [30] The sad emotion is thought to sometimes have low motivational intensity. But, after seeing a disgusting picture, participants were faster to identify the component letters, indicative of a localized more narrow cognitive scope. [2] [30] Disgust has high motivational intensity. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on central information. [2] [29] [30] whereas affects low in motivational intensity broadened cognitive scope allowing for faster global interpretation. [30] The changes in cognitive scope associated with different affective states is evolutionarily adaptive because high motivational intensity affects elicited by stimuli that require movement and action should be focused on, in a phenomenon known as goal-directed behavior. [32] For example, in early times seeing a lion (fearful stimulus) probably elicited a negative but high motivational affective state (fear) in which the human being was propelled to run away. In this case the goal would be to avoid getting killed.

Moving beyond just negative affective states, researchers wanted to test whether or not the negative or positive affective states varied between high and low motivational intensity. To evaluate this theory, Harmon-Jones, Gable and Price created an experiment using appetitive picture priming and the Navon task, which would allow them to measure the attentional scope with the detection of the Navon letters. The Navon task included a neutral affect comparison condition. Typically, neutral states cause broadened attention with a neutral stimulus. [33] They predicted that a broad attentional scope could cause a faster detection of global (large) letters, whereas a narrow attentional scope could cause a faster detection of local (small) letters. The evidence proved that the appetitive stimuli produced a narrowed attentional scope. The experimenters further increased the narrowed attentional scope in appetitive stimuli by telling participants they would be allowed to consume the desserts shown in the pictures. The results revealed that their hypothesis was correct in that the broad attentional scope led to quicker detection of global letters and the narrowed attentional scope led to quicker detection of local letters.

Researchers Bradley, Codispoti, Cuthbert and Lang wanted to further examine the emotional reactions in picture priming. Instead of using an appetitive stimulus they used stimulus sets from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). The image set includes various unpleasant pictures such as snakes, insects, attack scenes, accidents, illness, and loss. They predicted that the unpleasant picture would stimulate a defensive motivational intensity response, which would produce strong emotional arousal such as skin gland responses and cardiac deceleration. [34] Participants rated the pictures based on valence, arousal and dominance on the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) rating scale. The findings were consistent with the hypothesis and proved that emotion is organized motivationally by the intensity of activation in appetitive or defensive systems. [34]

Prior to research in 2013, Harmon-Jones and Gable performed an experiment to examine whether neural activation related with approach-motivation intensity (left frontal-central activity) would trigger the effect of appetitive stimuli on narrowed attention. They also tested whether individual dissimilarities in approach motivation are associated with attentional narrowing. In order to test the hypothesis, the researchers used the same Navon task with appetitive and neutral pictures in addition to having the participants indicate how long since they had last eaten in minutes. To examine the neural activation, the researchers used an electroencephalography and recorded eye movements in order to detect what regions of the brain were being used during approach motivation. The results supported the hypothesis suggesting that the left frontal-central hemisphere is relative for approach-motivational processes and narrowed attentional scope. [33] Some psychologists were concerned that the individuals who were hungry had an increase in the left frontal-central due to frustration. This statement was proved false because the research shows that the dessert pictures increase positive affect even in the hungry individuals. [33] The findings revealed that narrowed cognitive scope has the ability to assist us in goal accomplishment.

Clinical applications Edit

Later on, researchers connected motivational intensity to clinical applications and found that alcohol-related pictures caused narrowed attention for persons who had a strong motivation to consume alcohol. The researchers tested the participants by exposing them to alcohol and neutral pictures. After the picture was displayed on a screen, the participants finished a test evaluating attentional focus. The findings proved that exposure to alcohol-related pictures led to a narrowing of attentional focus to individuals who were motivated to use alcohol. [35] However, exposure to neutral pictures did not correlate with alcohol-related motivation to manipulate attentional focus. The Alcohol Myopia Theory (AMT) states that alcohol consumption reduces the amount of information available in memory, which also narrows attention so only the most proximal items or striking sources are encompassed in attentional scope. [35] This narrowed attention leads intoxicated persons to make more extreme decisions than they would when sober. Researchers provided evidence that substance-related stimuli capture the attention of individuals when they have high and intense motivation to consume the substance. Motivational intensity and cue-induced narrowing of attention has a unique role in shaping people's initial decision to consume alcohol. [35] In 2013, psychologists from the University of Missouri investigated the connection between sport achievement orientation and alcohol outcomes. They asked varsity athletes to complete a Sport Orientation Questionnaire which measured their sport-related achievement orientation on three scales—competitiveness, win orientation, and goal orientation. The participants also completed assessments of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. The results revealed that the goal orientation of the athletes were significantly associated with alcohol use but not alcohol-related problems. [36]

In terms of psychopathological implications and applications, college students showing depressive symptoms were better at retrieving seemingly "nonrelevant" contextual information from a source monitoring paradigm task. [31] Namely, the students with depressive symptoms were better at identifying the color of the box the word was in compared to nondepressed students. [31] Sadness (low motivational intensity) is usually [37] associated with depression, so the more broad focus on contextual information of sadder students supports that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden cognitive scope. [2] [31]

The motivational intensity theory states that the difficulty of a task combined with the importance of success determine the energy invested by an individual. [38] The theory has three main layers. The innermost layer says human behavior is guided by the desire to conserve as much energy as possible. Individuals aim to avoid wasting energy so they invest only the energy that is required to complete the task. The middle layer focuses on the difficulty of tasks combined with the importance of success and how this affects energy conservation. It focuses on energy investment in situations of clear and unclear task difficulty. The last layer looks at predictions for energy invested by a person when they have several possible options to choose at different task difficulties. [38] The person is free to choose among several possible options of task difficulty. The motivational intensity theory offers a logical and consistent framework for research. Researchers can predict a person's actions by assuming effort refers to the energy investment. The motivational intensity theory is used to show how changes in goal attractiveness and energy investment correlate.

Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus (i.e., its cause is self-evident), while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffuse. [39] Mood, according to Batson, Shaw and Oleson (1992), involves tone and intensity and a structured set of beliefs about general expectations of a future experience of pleasure or pain, or of positive or negative affect in the future. Unlike instant reactions that produce affect or emotion, and that change with expectations of future pleasure or pain, moods, being diffuse and unfocused and thus harder to cope with, can last for days, weeks, months or even years (Schucman, 1975). Moods are hypothetical constructs depicting an individual's emotional state. Researchers typically infer the existence of moods from a variety of behavioral referents (Blechman, 1990). Habitual negative affect and negative mood is characteristic of high neuroticism. [40]

Positive affect and negative affect (PANAS) represent independent domains of emotion in the general population, and positive affect is strongly linked to social interaction. Positive and negative daily events show independent relationships to subjective well-being, and positive affect is strongly linked to social activity. Recent research suggests that high functional support is related to higher levels of positive affect. In his work on negative affect arousal and white noise, Seidner found support for the existence of a negative affect arousal mechanism regarding the devaluation of speakers from other ethnic origins. [41] The exact process through which social support is linked to positive affect remains unclear. The process could derive from predictable, regularized social interaction, from leisure activities where the focus is on relaxation and positive mood, or from the enjoyment of shared activities. The techniques used to shift a negative mood to a positive one are called mood repair strategies.

Affect display is a critical facet of interpersonal communication. Evolutionary psychologists have advanced the hypothesis that hominids have evolved with sophisticated capability of reading affect displays. [42]

Emotions are portrayed as dynamic processes that mediate the individual's relation to a continually changing social environment. [43] In other words, emotions are considered to be processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting the relation between the organism and the environment on matters of significance to the person. [44]

Most social and psychological phenomena occur as the result of repeated interactions between multiple individuals over time. These interactions should be seen as a multi-agent system—a system that contains multiple agents interacting with each other and/or with their environments over time. The outcomes of individual agents' behaviors are interdependent: Each agent's ability to achieve its goals depends on not only what it does but also what other agents do. [45]

Emotions are one of the main sources for the interaction. Emotions of an individual influence the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of others others' reactions can then influence their future interactions with the individual expressing the original emotion, as well as that individual's future emotions and behaviors. Emotion operates in cycles that can involve multiple people in a process of reciprocal influence. [46]

Affect, emotion, or feeling is displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, voice characteristics, and other physical manifestation. These affect displays vary between and within cultures and are displayed in various forms ranging from the most discrete of facial expressions to the most dramatic and prolific gestures. [47]

Observers are sensitive to agents' emotions, and are capable of recognizing the messages these emotions convey. They react to and draw inferences from an agent's emotions. The emotion an agent displays may not be an authentic reflection of his or her actual state (See also Emotional labor).

Agents' emotions can have effects on four broad sets of factors:

  1. Emotions of other persons
  2. Inferences of other persons
  3. Behaviors of other persons
  4. Interactions and relationships between the agent and other persons.

Emotion may affect not only the person at whom it was directed, but also third parties who observe an agent's emotion. Moreover, emotions can affect larger social entities such as a group or a team. Emotions are a kind of message and therefore can influence the emotions, attributions and ensuing behaviors of others, potentially evoking a feedback process to the original agent.

Agents' feelings evoke feelings in others by two suggested distinct mechanisms:

  • Emotion contagion – people tend to automatically and unconsciously mimic non-verbal expressions. [48] Mimicking occurs also in interactions involving textual exchanges alone. [49]
  • Emotion interpretation – an individual may perceive an agent as feeling a particular emotion and react with complementary or situationally appropriate emotions of their own. The feelings of the others diverge from and in some way complement the feelings of the original agent.

People may not only react emotionally, but may also draw inferences about emotive agents such as the social status or power of an emotive agent, his competence and his credibility. [50] For example, an agent presumed to be angry may also be presumed to have high power. [51]


Affect (psychology)

Affective states are psycho-physiological constructs—meaning, largely, concepts that connect mental and physical processes. According to most current views, they vary along three principal dimensions: valence, arousal, and motivational intensity. [2]

  • Valence is the subjective spectrum of positive-to-negative evaluation of an experience an individual may have had. Emotional valence refers to the emotion's consequences, emotion-eliciting circumstances, or subjective feelings or attitudes. [3]
  • Arousal is objectively measurable as activation of the sympathetic nervous system, but can also be assessed subjectively via self-report.
  • Motivational intensity refers to the impulsion to act [4] the strength of an urge to move toward or away from a stimulus and whether or not to interact with said stimulus. Simply moving is not considered approach (or avoidance) motivation [5]

It is important to note that arousal is different from motivational intensity. While arousal is a construct that is closely related to motivational intensity, they differ in that motivation necessarily implies action while arousal does not. [6]

Affect is sometimes used to mean affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" (APA 2006). [7]

In psychology, affect brings about an organism's interaction with stimuli.

Affect can influence cognitive scope (the breadth of cognitive processes [8] ). Initially, it was thought that positive affects broadened whereas negative affects narrowed cognitive scope. [2] However, evidence now suggests that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden it. The construct of cognitive scope could be valuable in cognitive psychology. [2]

According to a research article about affect tolerance written by psychiatrist Jerome Sashin, "Affect tolerance can be defined as the ability to respond to a stimulus which would ordinarily be expected to evoke affects by the subjective experiencing of feelings." [9] Essentially it refers to one's ability to react to emotions and feelings. One who is low in affect tolerance would show little to no reaction to emotion and feeling of any kind. This is closely related to alexithymia.

"Alexithymia is a subclinical phenomenon involving a lack of emotional awareness or, more specifically, difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and in distinguishing feelings from the bodily sensations of emotional arousal" [10] At its core, alexithymia is an inability for an individual to recognize what emotions they are feeling—as well as an inability to describe them. According to Dalya Samur and colleagues, [11] people with alexithymia have been shown to have correlations with increased suicide rates, [12] mental discomfort, [13] and deaths. [14]

Affect tolerance [15] [16] factors, including anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, and emotional distress tolerance, may be helped by mindfulness. [17] Mindfulness refers to the practice of being hyper aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, and the stimulus of the environment around you—not in an anxiety-inducing way, but in a gentle and pleasant way. Mindfulness has been shown to produce "increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation." [18]

The affective domain represents one of the three divisions described in modern psychology: the other two being the behavioral, and the cognitive. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the "ABC's of psychology", [19] However, in certain views, the cognitive may be considered as a part of the affective, or the affective as a part of the cognitive [20] it is important to note that "cognitive and affective states … [are] merely analytic categories." [21]

"Affect" can mean an instinctual reaction to stimulation that occurs before the typical cognitive processes considered necessary for the formation of a more complex emotion. Robert B. Zajonc asserts this reaction to stimuli is primary for human beings and that it is the dominant reaction for non-human organisms. Zajonc suggests that affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding and be made sooner and with greater confidence than cognitive judgments (Zajonc, 1980).

Many theorists (e.g. Lazarus, 1982) consider affect to be post-cognitive: elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, such affective reactions as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure each result from a different prior cognitive process that makes a variety of content discriminations and identifies features, examines them to find value, and weighs them according to their contributions (Brewin, 1989). Some scholars (e.g. Lerner and Keltner 2000) argue that affect can be both pre- and post-cognitive: initial emotional responses produce thoughts, which produce affect. In a further iteration, some scholars argue that affect is necessary for enabling more rational modes of cognition (e.g. Damasio 1994).

A divergence from a narrow reinforcement model of emotion allows other perspectives about how affect influences emotional development. Thus, temperament, cognitive development, socialization patterns, and the idiosyncrasies of one's family or subculture might interact in nonlinear ways. For example, the temperament of a highly reactive/low self-soothing infant may "disproportionately" affect the process of emotion regulation in the early months of life (Griffiths, 1997).

Some other social sciences, such as geography or anthropology, have adopted the concept of affect during the last decade. In French psychoanalysis a major contribution to the field of affect comes from André Green. [22] The focus on affect has largely derived from the work of Deleuze and brought emotional and visceral concerns into such conventional discourses as those on geopolitics, urban life and material culture. Affect has also challenged methodologies of the social sciences by emphasizing somatic power over the idea of a removed objectivity and therefore has strong ties with the contemporary non-representational theory. [23]

A number of experiments have been conducted in the study of social and psychological affective preferences (i.e., what people like or dislike). Specific research has been done on preferences, attitudes, impression formation, and decision-making. This research contrasts findings with recognition memory (old-new judgments), allowing researchers to demonstrate reliable distinctions between the two. Affect-based judgments and cognitive processes have been examined with noted differences indicated, and some argue affect and cognition are under the control of separate and partially independent systems that can influence each other in a variety of ways (Zajonc, 1980). Both affect and cognition may constitute independent sources of effects within systems of information processing. Others suggest emotion is a result of an anticipated, experienced, or imagined outcome of an adaptational transaction between organism and environment, therefore cognitive appraisal processes are keys to the development and expression of an emotion (Lazarus, 1982).

Affect has been found across cultures to comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The most commonly used measure in scholarly research is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). [24] The PANAS is a lexical measure developed in a North American setting and consisting of 20 single-word items, for instance excited, alert, determined for positive affect, and upset, guilty, and jittery for negative affect. However, some of the PANAS items have been found either to be redundant or to have ambiguous meanings to English speakers from non-North American cultures. As a result, an internationally reliable short-form, the I-PANAS-SF, has been developed and validated comprising two 5-item scales with internal reliability, cross-sample and cross-cultural factorial invariance, temporal stability, convergent and criterion-related validities. [25]

Mroczek and Kolarz have also developed another set of scales to measure positive and negative affect. [26] Each of the scales has 6 items. The scales have shown evidence of acceptable validity and reliability across cultures. [26] [27] [28]

In relation to perception, a type of non-conscious affect may be separate from the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli. A monohierarchy of perception, affect and cognition considers the roles of arousal, attention tendencies, affective primacy (Zajonc, 1980), evolutionary constraints (Shepard, 1984 1994), and covert perception (Weiskrantz, 1997) within the sensing and processing of preferences and discriminations. Emotions are complex chains of events triggered by certain stimuli. There is no way to completely describe an emotion by knowing only some of its components. Verbal reports of feelings are often inaccurate because people may not know exactly what they feel, or they may feel several different emotions at the same time. There are also situations that arise in which individuals attempt to hide their feelings, and there are some who believe that public and private events seldom coincide exactly, and that words for feelings are generally more ambiguous than are words for objects or events. Therefore, non-conscious emotions need to be measured by measures circumventing self-report such as the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT Quirin, Kazén, & Kuhl, 2009).

Affective responses, on the other hand, are more basic and may be less problematic in terms of assessment. Brewin has proposed two experiential processes that frame non-cognitive relations between various affective experiences: those that are prewired dispositions (i.e. non-conscious processes), able to "select from the total stimulus array those stimuli that are causally relevant, using such criteria as perceptual salience, spatiotemporal cues, and predictive value in relation to data stored in memory" (Brewin, 1989, p. 381), and those that are automatic (i.e. subconscious processes), characterized as "rapid, relatively inflexible and difficult to modify. (requiring) minimal attention to occur and. (capable of being) activated without intention or awareness" (1989 p. 381). But a note should be considered on the differences between affect and emotion.

Arousal is a basic physiological response to the presentation of stimuli. When this occurs, a non-conscious affective process takes the form of two control mechanisms: one mobilizing and the other immobilizing. Within the human brain, the amygdala regulates an instinctual reaction initiating this arousal process, either freezing the individual or accelerating mobilization.

The arousal response is illustrated in studies focused on reward systems that control food-seeking behavior (Balleine, 2005). Researchers have focused on learning processes and modulatory processes that are present while encoding and retrieving goal values. When an organism seeks food, the anticipation of reward based on environmental events becomes another influence on food seeking that is separate from the reward of food itself. Therefore, earning the reward and anticipating the reward are separate processes and both create an excitatory influence of reward-related cues. Both processes are dissociated at the level of the amygdala, and are functionally integrated within larger neural systems.

Measuring cognitive scope Edit

Cognitive scope can be measured by tasks involving attention, perception, categorization and memory. Some studies use a flanker attention task to figure out whether cognitive scope is broadened or narrowed. For example, using the letters "H" and "N" participants need to identify as quickly as possible the middle letter of 5 when all the letters are the same (e.g. "HHHHH") and when the middle letter is different from the flanking letters (e.g. "HHNHH"). [29] Broadened cognitive scope would be indicated if reaction times differed greatly from when all the letters were the same compared to when the middle letter is different. [29] Other studies use a Navon attention task to measure difference in cognitive scope. A large letter is composed of smaller letters, in most cases smaller "L"'s or "F"'s that make up the shape of the letter "T" or "H" or vice versa. [30] Broadened cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the larger letter, whereas narrowed cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the smaller letters within the larger letter. [30] A source-monitoring paradigm can also be used to measure how much contextual information is perceived: for instance, participants are tasked to watch a screen which serially displays words to be memorized for 3 seconds each, and also have to remember whether the word appeared on the left or the right half of the screen. [31] The words were also encased in a colored box, but the participants did not know that they would eventually be asked what color box the word appeared in. [31]

Main research findings Edit

Motivation intensity refers to the strength of urge to move toward or away from a particular stimulus. [2]

Anger and fear affective states, induced via film clips, conferred more selective attention on a flanker task compared to controls as indicated by reaction times that were not very different, even when the flanking letters were different from the middle target letter. [2] [29] Both anger and fear have high motivational intensity because propulsion to act would be high in the face of an angry or fearful stimulus, like a screaming person or coiled snake. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on target information. [2] [29] After seeing a sad picture, participants were faster to identify the larger letter in a Navon attention task, suggesting more global or broadened cognitive scope. [2] [30] The sad emotion is thought to sometimes have low motivational intensity. But, after seeing a disgusting picture, participants were faster to identify the component letters, indicative of a localized more narrow cognitive scope. [2] [30] Disgust has high motivational intensity. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on central information. [2] [29] [30] whereas affects low in motivational intensity broadened cognitive scope allowing for faster global interpretation. [30] The changes in cognitive scope associated with different affective states is evolutionarily adaptive because high motivational intensity affects elicited by stimuli that require movement and action should be focused on, in a phenomenon known as goal-directed behavior. [32] For example, in early times seeing a lion (fearful stimulus) probably elicited a negative but high motivational affective state (fear) in which the human being was propelled to run away. In this case the goal would be to avoid getting killed.

Moving beyond just negative affective states, researchers wanted to test whether or not the negative or positive affective states varied between high and low motivational intensity. To evaluate this theory, Harmon-Jones, Gable and Price created an experiment using appetitive picture priming and the Navon task, which would allow them to measure the attentional scope with the detection of the Navon letters. The Navon task included a neutral affect comparison condition. Typically, neutral states cause broadened attention with a neutral stimulus. [33] They predicted that a broad attentional scope could cause a faster detection of global (large) letters, whereas a narrow attentional scope could cause a faster detection of local (small) letters. The evidence proved that the appetitive stimuli produced a narrowed attentional scope. The experimenters further increased the narrowed attentional scope in appetitive stimuli by telling participants they would be allowed to consume the desserts shown in the pictures. The results revealed that their hypothesis was correct in that the broad attentional scope led to quicker detection of global letters and the narrowed attentional scope led to quicker detection of local letters.

Researchers Bradley, Codispoti, Cuthbert and Lang wanted to further examine the emotional reactions in picture priming. Instead of using an appetitive stimulus they used stimulus sets from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). The image set includes various unpleasant pictures such as snakes, insects, attack scenes, accidents, illness, and loss. They predicted that the unpleasant picture would stimulate a defensive motivational intensity response, which would produce strong emotional arousal such as skin gland responses and cardiac deceleration. [34] Participants rated the pictures based on valence, arousal and dominance on the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) rating scale. The findings were consistent with the hypothesis and proved that emotion is organized motivationally by the intensity of activation in appetitive or defensive systems. [34]

Prior to research in 2013, Harmon-Jones and Gable performed an experiment to examine whether neural activation related with approach-motivation intensity (left frontal-central activity) would trigger the effect of appetitive stimuli on narrowed attention. They also tested whether individual dissimilarities in approach motivation are associated with attentional narrowing. In order to test the hypothesis, the researchers used the same Navon task with appetitive and neutral pictures in addition to having the participants indicate how long since they had last eaten in minutes. To examine the neural activation, the researchers used an electroencephalography and recorded eye movements in order to detect what regions of the brain were being used during approach motivation. The results supported the hypothesis suggesting that the left frontal-central hemisphere is relative for approach-motivational processes and narrowed attentional scope. [33] Some psychologists were concerned that the individuals who were hungry had an increase in the left frontal-central due to frustration. This statement was proved false because the research shows that the dessert pictures increase positive affect even in the hungry individuals. [33] The findings revealed that narrowed cognitive scope has the ability to assist us in goal accomplishment.

Clinical applications Edit

Later on, researchers connected motivational intensity to clinical applications and found that alcohol-related pictures caused narrowed attention for persons who had a strong motivation to consume alcohol. The researchers tested the participants by exposing them to alcohol and neutral pictures. After the picture was displayed on a screen, the participants finished a test evaluating attentional focus. The findings proved that exposure to alcohol-related pictures led to a narrowing of attentional focus to individuals who were motivated to use alcohol. [35] However, exposure to neutral pictures did not correlate with alcohol-related motivation to manipulate attentional focus. The Alcohol Myopia Theory (AMT) states that alcohol consumption reduces the amount of information available in memory, which also narrows attention so only the most proximal items or striking sources are encompassed in attentional scope. [35] This narrowed attention leads intoxicated persons to make more extreme decisions than they would when sober. Researchers provided evidence that substance-related stimuli capture the attention of individuals when they have high and intense motivation to consume the substance. Motivational intensity and cue-induced narrowing of attention has a unique role in shaping people's initial decision to consume alcohol. [35] In 2013, psychologists from the University of Missouri investigated the connection between sport achievement orientation and alcohol outcomes. They asked varsity athletes to complete a Sport Orientation Questionnaire which measured their sport-related achievement orientation on three scales—competitiveness, win orientation, and goal orientation. The participants also completed assessments of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. The results revealed that the goal orientation of the athletes were significantly associated with alcohol use but not alcohol-related problems. [36]

In terms of psychopathological implications and applications, college students showing depressive symptoms were better at retrieving seemingly "nonrelevant" contextual information from a source monitoring paradigm task. [31] Namely, the students with depressive symptoms were better at identifying the color of the box the word was in compared to nondepressed students. [31] Sadness (low motivational intensity) is usually [37] associated with depression, so the more broad focus on contextual information of sadder students supports that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden cognitive scope. [2] [31]

The motivational intensity theory states that the difficulty of a task combined with the importance of success determine the energy invested by an individual. [38] The theory has three main layers. The innermost layer says human behavior is guided by the desire to conserve as much energy as possible. Individuals aim to avoid wasting energy so they invest only the energy that is required to complete the task. The middle layer focuses on the difficulty of tasks combined with the importance of success and how this affects energy conservation. It focuses on energy investment in situations of clear and unclear task difficulty. The last layer looks at predictions for energy invested by a person when they have several possible options to choose at different task difficulties. [38] The person is free to choose among several possible options of task difficulty. The motivational intensity theory offers a logical and consistent framework for research. Researchers can predict a person's actions by assuming effort refers to the energy investment. The motivational intensity theory is used to show how changes in goal attractiveness and energy investment correlate.

Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus (i.e., its cause is self-evident), while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffuse. [39] Mood, according to Batson, Shaw and Oleson (1992), involves tone and intensity and a structured set of beliefs about general expectations of a future experience of pleasure or pain, or of positive or negative affect in the future. Unlike instant reactions that produce affect or emotion, and that change with expectations of future pleasure or pain, moods, being diffuse and unfocused and thus harder to cope with, can last for days, weeks, months or even years (Schucman, 1975). Moods are hypothetical constructs depicting an individual's emotional state. Researchers typically infer the existence of moods from a variety of behavioral referents (Blechman, 1990). Habitual negative affect and negative mood is characteristic of high neuroticism. [40]

Positive affect and negative affect (PANAS) represent independent domains of emotion in the general population, and positive affect is strongly linked to social interaction. Positive and negative daily events show independent relationships to subjective well-being, and positive affect is strongly linked to social activity. Recent research suggests that high functional support is related to higher levels of positive affect. In his work on negative affect arousal and white noise, Seidner found support for the existence of a negative affect arousal mechanism regarding the devaluation of speakers from other ethnic origins. [41] The exact process through which social support is linked to positive affect remains unclear. The process could derive from predictable, regularized social interaction, from leisure activities where the focus is on relaxation and positive mood, or from the enjoyment of shared activities. The techniques used to shift a negative mood to a positive one are called mood repair strategies.

Affect display is a critical facet of interpersonal communication. Evolutionary psychologists have advanced the hypothesis that hominids have evolved with sophisticated capability of reading affect displays. [42]

Emotions are portrayed as dynamic processes that mediate the individual's relation to a continually changing social environment. [43] In other words, emotions are considered to be processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting the relation between the organism and the environment on matters of significance to the person. [44]

Most social and psychological phenomena occur as the result of repeated interactions between multiple individuals over time. These interactions should be seen as a multi-agent system—a system that contains multiple agents interacting with each other and/or with their environments over time. The outcomes of individual agents' behaviors are interdependent: Each agent's ability to achieve its goals depends on not only what it does but also what other agents do. [45]

Emotions are one of the main sources for the interaction. Emotions of an individual influence the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of others others' reactions can then influence their future interactions with the individual expressing the original emotion, as well as that individual's future emotions and behaviors. Emotion operates in cycles that can involve multiple people in a process of reciprocal influence. [46]

Affect, emotion, or feeling is displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, voice characteristics, and other physical manifestation. These affect displays vary between and within cultures and are displayed in various forms ranging from the most discrete of facial expressions to the most dramatic and prolific gestures. [47]

Observers are sensitive to agents' emotions, and are capable of recognizing the messages these emotions convey. They react to and draw inferences from an agent's emotions. The emotion an agent displays may not be an authentic reflection of his or her actual state (See also Emotional labor).

Agents' emotions can have effects on four broad sets of factors:

  1. Emotions of other persons
  2. Inferences of other persons
  3. Behaviors of other persons
  4. Interactions and relationships between the agent and other persons.

Emotion may affect not only the person at whom it was directed, but also third parties who observe an agent's emotion. Moreover, emotions can affect larger social entities such as a group or a team. Emotions are a kind of message and therefore can influence the emotions, attributions and ensuing behaviors of others, potentially evoking a feedback process to the original agent.

Agents' feelings evoke feelings in others by two suggested distinct mechanisms:

  • Emotion contagion – people tend to automatically and unconsciously mimic non-verbal expressions. [48] Mimicking occurs also in interactions involving textual exchanges alone. [49]
  • Emotion interpretation – an individual may perceive an agent as feeling a particular emotion and react with complementary or situationally appropriate emotions of their own. The feelings of the others diverge from and in some way complement the feelings of the original agent.

People may not only react emotionally, but may also draw inferences about emotive agents such as the social status or power of an emotive agent, his competence and his credibility. [50] For example, an agent presumed to be angry may also be presumed to have high power. [51]


5 Types of Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension is the ability to easily and efficiently read text for meaning. It is the last step of the reading process taught to children, after they’ve acquired phonological processing skills and learned phonics, fluency, and vocabulary.

Five levels of reading comprehension can be taught to children.

Understand key vocabulary in the text.

  • Preview vocabulary before reading the story or text
  • Review new vocabulary during or after reading the text

Answer Who, What, When and Where questions.

  • Look in the text to find the answers written in the story.
  • Ask questions from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Answer What If, Why, and How questions.

  • Understand “facts” that are not explicitly stated in the story.
  • Use illustrations to infer meaning.

Relate story to existing knowledge or opinion.

  • Ask questions that have no right or wrong answer.
  • Challenge children to support their answers with logic or reason.

Understand social and emotional aspects.

  • Preview social scripts to ensure understanding of plot development.
  • Connect motive to plot and character development.

To really understand these different levels, let’s take a familiar text and see how different types of questions probe different understandings of the same story.

The fairy tale Cinderella tells the story of a young girl, whose evil stepmother won’t let her go to the ball. Cinderalla’s fairy godmother, however, magically whisks her off for the night and Cinderella eventually marries her Prince Charming.

Read More: Find out how to use Reading Level Charts to match appropriately challenging books to a child’s reading ability.


Dynamics of affective states during complex learning

We propose a model to explain the dynamics of affective states that emerge during deep learning activities. The model predicts that learners in a state of engagement/flow will experience cognitive disequilibrium and confusion when they face contradictions, incongruities, anomalies, obstacles to goals, and other impasses. Learners revert into the engaged/flow state if equilibrium is restored through thought, reflection, and problem solving. However, failure to restore equilibrium as well as obstacles that block goals trigger frustration, which, if unresolved, will eventually lead to boredom. The major hypotheses of the model were supported in two studies in which participants completed a 32–35 min tutoring session with a computer tutor. Their affective states were tracked at approximately 110 points in their tutoring sessions via a retrospective affect judgment protocol. Time series analyses confirmed the presence of confusion–engagement/flow, boredom–frustration, and confusion–frustration oscillations. We discuss enhancements of the model to address individual differences and pedagogical and motivational strategies that are inspired by the model.

Highlights

► Affective states dynamically arise, morph, and decay during learning. ► Impasses and confusion are hypothesized to be essential for critical thought and inquiry. ► Learners’ affective trajectories were monitored in two studies. ► Engaged learners experienced two-step episodes alternating between confusion and insight. ► Harmful boredom–frustration and confusion–frustration oscillations were also observed.


Reading / Math task for evoking affective states - Psychology

Cognitive control can be understood as an emotional process.

Negative affect is an integral, instantiating aspect of cognitive control.

Cognitive conflict has an emotional cost, evoking a host of emotional primitives.

Emotion is not an inert byproduct of conflict, but helps in recruiting control.

Often seen as the paragon of higher cognition, here we suggest that cognitive control is dependent on emotion. Rather than asking whether control is influenced by emotion, we ask whether control itself can be understood as an emotional process. Reviewing converging evidence from cybernetics, animal research, cognitive neuroscience, and social and personality psychology, we suggest that cognitive control is initiated when goal conflicts evoke phasic changes to emotional primitives that both focus attention on the presence of goal conflicts and energize conflict resolution to support goal-directed behavior. Critically, we propose that emotion is not an inert byproduct of conflict but is instrumental in recruiting control. Appreciating the emotional foundations of control leads to testable predictions that can spur future research.


Materials and Methods

Subjects

A total of 183 children were recruited and their parents agreed to participate. The aim was that approximately half of the children had a diagnosis of DD and the other half with typical development to achieve equally sized groups. Of the 183 children, 172 children (aged 7.3�.3 years, mean 8.6 years, 69.8% female) met the general inclusion criteria and hence comprised the final study sample. 76 children (44.2%) further met the criteria for DD, the other 96 children served as control children (CC) (see also Table 1 for demographic and behavioral data). The children were recruited in Germany (Berlin, Potsdam) and Switzerland (Zurich).

Table 1. Demographic and behavioral data of the sample.

General Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Of the originally 183 children, a total of 11 children (6%) were excluded from the data analyses due to the following criteria: Three children were excluded because their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was above 120. Seven children were excluded due to psychiatric diagnoses. One child was excluded due to undefined group membership (with mathematical performance T = 40.44, see criteria for classification of DD).

Parents gave written consent and children received a voucher for their participation. The study was approved by the local ethics committee based on guidelines from the World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki (WMA, 2002).

Classification of DD

Classification of DD was based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V (APA, 2013): criterion (A) severe math problems for more than 6 months criterion (B) Low achievement scores in one or more standardized mathematical tests (1𠄲.5 SD below the population mean for age) criterion (C) mathematical difficulties readily apparent in the early school years criterion (D) not attributable to intellectual disabilities (IQ > 70), global developmental delay, hearing or vision disorders, or neurological or motor disorders. In the present study, mathematical performance was assessed in all children by a careful selection of standardized neuropsychological tests particularly designed for the clinical assessment of DD (for detailed description see section Cognitive Assessments). To be classified as having DD, the mean T-value of mathematical performance had to be lower than 40 (ρ SD). In addition, general intelligence had to be in the normal range (85 < IQ < 114, N = 173 or marginally above IQ 115�, N = 7) with no evidence of any psychiatric disease. According to DSM-V, the discrepancy between mathematical performance and individual IQ is not a requirement for diagnosis, nevertheless, 78% of the DD children showed a discrepancy between mathematical performance and IQ of more than one standard deviation (N = 59, mean discrepancy = 14.3 t-value), and 22% showed a lower discrepancy between both measures (N = 17, mean discrepancy = 7.1 t-value).

Cognitive Assessments

Intelligence

Estimated intelligence was measured by the mean of different IQ subtests. Mean IQ of children recruited in Switzerland was based on six subtests of the standardized Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) test battery (block design, similarities, digit span, picture concepts, vocabulary, and arithmetic) (Petermann and Petermann, 2007). The mean IQ of children recruited in Germany was based on four subtests, including two of the WISC-IV (block design, similarities) and two of the test battery �sisdiagnostik Umschriebener Entwicklungsstörungen im Grundschulalter” (BUEGA) (Esser et al., 2008).

Mathematical Performance

The main mathematical and numerical performance for children recruited in Switzerland was assessed using the two subtests of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT) (addition, subtraction) (Haffner et al., 2005) and the standardized Neuropsychological Test Battery for Number Processing and Calculation in Children (ZAREKI-R) (von Aster et al., 2006). This neuropsychological battery examines basic skills in calculation and arithmetic and aims to identify and characterize the profile of mathematical abilities in children with DD from the 1st to 4th grade level. It is composed of 11 subtests, such as reverse counting, subtraction, number reading, dictating, visual estimation of quantities, and digit span forward and backward. Mean number processing for children recruited in Germany was assessed using four subtests, namely two of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT) (addition, subtraction) (Haffner et al., 2005), the number line task II of the ZAREKI-R and the calculation test of the BUEGA (Esser et al., 2008). The calculation test of the BUEGA evaluates by text problems, which are illustrated in pictures, the knowledge of number comparisons, magnitudes, sizes, and the understanding and use of the four basic arithmetical operations. Criteria for DD for both Swiss and German children were met if a child's performance was below a mean T-value of 40.

Mathematics Anxiety

Mathematics anxiety was assessed by the Math-Anxiety-Interview for German speaking primary school children (MAI), which is a valid and reliable measure for the assessment of math anxiety as demonstrated by a Cronbach's alpha of 0.90 (Kohn et al., 2013). The MAI combines two different types of questions while four math related situations are verbally and pictorially presented (1st on the eve of a math test, 2nd math homework, 3rd math class, and 4th everyday/shopping). The child is initially asked to rate the intensity of his or her anxiety concerning the presented situation by an anxiety thermometer from 0 to 10. In a second step, the different components of anxiety (affective, cognitive, behavioral and physiological) are explored. The child is asked to estimate, to what extent specific statements apply to the particular situation, e.g., “I cannot get a word out.” For the present study we have chosen the mean math anxiety intensity associated with all four situations which provides a valid and reliable measure from 0 = no anxiety to 10 = very strong math anxiety in primary school children.

Arithmetic Fluency

Arithmetic fluency was evaluated using the addition and subtraction subtests of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT). In this test, a list of 40 addition or subtraction tasks is presented to the child and he/she is asked to solve as many problems as possible within 2 min.

Number Line Performance

The spatial representation of numbers was measured by a paper-and-pencil number line task (Kucian et al., 2011). Children had to indicate with a pencil on a left-to-right oriented number line from 0 to 100 the location of 20 Arabic digits, the results of 20 additions and 20 subtractions, and the estimated number of 10 different dot arrays. The accuracy was measured by calculating the percentage distance from the marked to the correct position of the given number (=%deviation). Only the correctly calculated addition and subtraction problems were included, but the percentage of correctly solved addition or subtraction trials was also calculated.

Working Memory

Spatial working memory was assessed by the Block Suppression Test (Beblo et al., 2004). This test is based on the CORSI-Block Tapping test (Schellig, 1997) and requires the subject to reproduce every second block in a given sequence of touched cubes on a wooden board as the examiner demonstrated. While the sequences gradually increase in length, the number of cubes last tapped in two consecutively correct sequences is defined as the maximum spatial working memory span.

Priming Task

To assess the affective effects of primes on calculation an adapted version of the task developed by Rubinsten and Tannock (2010) was used. It included four different types of primes (words with either positive, negative or neutral affect and words related to mathematics) and single-digit arithmetic problems (additions and subtractions) served as targets. As illustrated in Figure 1, each trial consisted of a prime presented aurally via headphones followed by an arithmetical problem. Reaction time in milliseconds was measured by the computer from the target onset to the participant's response. Each participant underwent in total 80 trials.

Figure 1. Paradigm. The paradigm consisted of a priming task including a prime and a target. Primes were either positive, negative, neutral or mathematics-related and were presented aurally while children focused on a fixation star for 2 s. Then a subtraction or addition problem followed as the target and children had to inadequate whether it was true or false by pressing either button p or q on the keyboard. This presentation of the target was self-paced with a maximum of 4 s. The trial ended with the presentation of a blank screen for 1 s.

The primes were comprised of 40 words, including 10 per affective dimension (e.g., sun as a positive affective word, wood as a neutral affective word, prison as a negative affective word and count as a mathematic related word). The words were selected from the “The Berlin Affective Word List Reloaded” (BAWL-R), which contains a large set of psycholinguistic indexes known to influence word processing, and also features ratings of the emotional arousal, emotional valence and imageability of each word (Võ et al., 2009). Since the word ratings of the BAWL-R were based on ratings from 200 adults, we selected 61 words, which were balanced for the number of letters, number of syllables, type of word (noun, verb, adjective), and emotional valence (positive, negative, neutral) or with mathematics related content and had them re-evaluated by a group of children. In total 123 children from the 2nd (N = 29), 3rd (N = 30), 4th (N = 32), and 5th (N = 32) grade rated these words. They were asked to indicate how they felt when they heard the word by marking a five-stepped smiley scale from happy to sad smileys, and to indicate if the word was related to mathematics, yes or no. Obtained ratings were analyzed for all children, as well as for each grade and for girls or boys separately. Consideration of these findings led to the final word list that was used in the present priming task. Please see Table S7 for a detailed description of the words.

The arithmetic problems were presented in the form 𠇊 * b = c,” where a and b represent single digits from 1 to 9, * represents an arithmetic operation (+ or –) and c represents the solution, which also consisted of only one digit (e.g., 2 + 1 = 3 as a correct addition target). The type of arithmetic operation (each prime was once followed by an addition and once by a subtraction problem) and whether the problem was true or false were balanced between affective dimensions of primes and presented in a randomized order.

The present task differed from the original one of Rubinsten and Tannock (2010) in the following aspects: We have simplified the task by reducing the total number of trials from 160 to 80 by excluding multiplication and division arithmetic problems. Furthermore, the maximal response latency was extended from 3,000 to 4,000 ms. Moreover, we only included single digit solutions. Whereas Rubinsten and Tannock presented the primes visually in English, we presented the primes aurally in German. These changes in the priming task were conducted to adapt the paradigm to our younger cohort, consisting mostly of children in grades 2 or 3, whereas subjects in the study of Rubinsten and Tannock were in grades 4 or above.

Data Analyses

Data were analyzed by IBM SPSS Statistics Version 24 (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, 2016). Raw data of the priming task were extracted from E-Prime (E-Prime, 2002) and converted into SPSS. First, all behavioral data were tested for normality by the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. If the data followed a normal distribution, groups were compared by parametric independent-sample t-tests. If data were not normally distributed, the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test for two independent samples was used. Nominal data (gender) was compared between control children and the DD group with a chi-squared test. P-values lower than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. To evaluate the effects of the priming task a general linear model analysis was conducted with RT as dependent variable. The 4 (type of prime: positive/negative/neutral/mathematics-related) × 2 (arithmetic operation: addition/subtraction) repeated measures ANCOVA defined type of prime and arithmetic operation as within-subject factors and group (CC/DD) as the between-subject factor. Since DD and CC groups differed in age, age was included as a covariate to exclude the possibility that group differences might be based on age differences. Regarding IQ, it was expected that children with DD show a lower mean IQ compared to typically achieving peers as IQ measures are not fully independent from measures of math ability (Lambert and Spinath, 2018). In our analyses, we decided not to match groups on IQ, because one would have artificially influence the pattern of the normal population of DD or CC children. Moreover, IQ not to include as covariate in statistical analyses, which is in line with the suggestion of Dennis et al. (2009), who state that it is misguided and unjustified to attempt to control for IQ differences for cognitive outcome. However, we repeated the all tests with IQ and age as covariates showing that the main results did not change.


Reading Anxiety: An Early Affective Impediment to Children’s Success in Reading

Learning to read is a critical but often challenging academic task for young children. In the current study, we explore the relation between children’s reading affect-–particularly anxiety-–and reading achievement in the early years of reading acquisition. We hypothesized that reading anxiety would relate to reading achievement across the school year and that boys and girls might show differential patterns in the relation between reading anxiety and achievement due to the common stereotype that boys underperform in reading. A sample of first and second grade students completed measures of reading anxiety, positive reading affect, math achievement, and reading achievement in the fall and spring. Results show that reading anxiety and reading achievement share a bi-directional relation in which fall reading anxiety predicts spring reading achievement and vice versa. Furthermore, the pattern of relation between reading anxiety and achievement differs by gender: boys appear more susceptible to the reciprocal damaging effects of reading anxiety on reading achievement across the school year. Finally, reading achievement shares a stronger relation with reading anxiety than with positive reading affect, perhaps because of the phenomenon in which negative relative to positive experiences have a greater psychological impact.


Abstract

Drawing on social cognitive perspectives, the present study examined an integrative model of the interplay among math self-efficacy, interests, aspirations, and achievement among early and middle adolescents. Based on short-term longitudinal data from approximately 400 students, analyses using fully latent structural equation analyses, establishing requisite levels of longitudinal invariance, revealed that (a) math self-efficacy positively predicted math achievement using both class grades and standardized test score operationalizations (b) prior math achievement positively predicted basal levels of math self-efficacy but not changes in self-efficacy (c) math interest and intentions were reciprocally linked over time and (d) prior math interest positively predicted subsequent math self-efficacy whereas the opposite was not true. Notably, all effects were observed while accounting for prior variance in outcomes as well as the effects of known covariates. The current findings contribute to understandings of the motivational processes involved in math achievement and choosing educational pathways, and suggest that multidimensional interventions may be most profitable if both achievement and selection outcomes are at stake.


Clinical Neuroscience Lab

Research in the Clinical Neuroscience Lab has two primary aims. First, our research focuses on understanding cognitive and affective changes in neuropsychological functioning in the context of aging and multiple sclerosis. By combining neuropsychological, behavioral, and neuroimaging methods, we aim to systematically parse the contributions of different parameters underlying the specific cognitive mechanisms. Second, we are interested in understanding the effects and mechanisms of mind-body interventions on neuropsychological rehabilitation. Through this line of research, we aim to systematically assess the efficacy of various lifestyle and mind-body approaches in improving cognitive functioning and emotion dysregulation.

This lab is currently conducting two large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The first RCT, funded by the National Institute on Aging, seeks to examine the impacts of mind-body practices on cognition ad emotion in older adults. The RCT, funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is a behavioral monitoring intervention study to potentially improve cognition in individuals with multiple sclerosis.


Dynamics of affective states during complex learning

We propose a model to explain the dynamics of affective states that emerge during deep learning activities. The model predicts that learners in a state of engagement/flow will experience cognitive disequilibrium and confusion when they face contradictions, incongruities, anomalies, obstacles to goals, and other impasses. Learners revert into the engaged/flow state if equilibrium is restored through thought, reflection, and problem solving. However, failure to restore equilibrium as well as obstacles that block goals trigger frustration, which, if unresolved, will eventually lead to boredom. The major hypotheses of the model were supported in two studies in which participants completed a 32–35 min tutoring session with a computer tutor. Their affective states were tracked at approximately 110 points in their tutoring sessions via a retrospective affect judgment protocol. Time series analyses confirmed the presence of confusion–engagement/flow, boredom–frustration, and confusion–frustration oscillations. We discuss enhancements of the model to address individual differences and pedagogical and motivational strategies that are inspired by the model.

Highlights

► Affective states dynamically arise, morph, and decay during learning. ► Impasses and confusion are hypothesized to be essential for critical thought and inquiry. ► Learners’ affective trajectories were monitored in two studies. ► Engaged learners experienced two-step episodes alternating between confusion and insight. ► Harmful boredom–frustration and confusion–frustration oscillations were also observed.


Affect (psychology)

Affective states are psycho-physiological constructs—meaning, largely, concepts that connect mental and physical processes. According to most current views, they vary along three principal dimensions: valence, arousal, and motivational intensity. [2]

  • Valence is the subjective spectrum of positive-to-negative evaluation of an experience an individual may have had. Emotional valence refers to the emotion's consequences, emotion-eliciting circumstances, or subjective feelings or attitudes. [3]
  • Arousal is objectively measurable as activation of the sympathetic nervous system, but can also be assessed subjectively via self-report.
  • Motivational intensity refers to the impulsion to act [4] the strength of an urge to move toward or away from a stimulus and whether or not to interact with said stimulus. Simply moving is not considered approach (or avoidance) motivation [5]

It is important to note that arousal is different from motivational intensity. While arousal is a construct that is closely related to motivational intensity, they differ in that motivation necessarily implies action while arousal does not. [6]

Affect is sometimes used to mean affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" (APA 2006). [7]

In psychology, affect brings about an organism's interaction with stimuli.

Affect can influence cognitive scope (the breadth of cognitive processes [8] ). Initially, it was thought that positive affects broadened whereas negative affects narrowed cognitive scope. [2] However, evidence now suggests that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden it. The construct of cognitive scope could be valuable in cognitive psychology. [2]

According to a research article about affect tolerance written by psychiatrist Jerome Sashin, "Affect tolerance can be defined as the ability to respond to a stimulus which would ordinarily be expected to evoke affects by the subjective experiencing of feelings." [9] Essentially it refers to one's ability to react to emotions and feelings. One who is low in affect tolerance would show little to no reaction to emotion and feeling of any kind. This is closely related to alexithymia.

"Alexithymia is a subclinical phenomenon involving a lack of emotional awareness or, more specifically, difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and in distinguishing feelings from the bodily sensations of emotional arousal" [10] At its core, alexithymia is an inability for an individual to recognize what emotions they are feeling—as well as an inability to describe them. According to Dalya Samur and colleagues, [11] people with alexithymia have been shown to have correlations with increased suicide rates, [12] mental discomfort, [13] and deaths. [14]

Affect tolerance [15] [16] factors, including anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, and emotional distress tolerance, may be helped by mindfulness. [17] Mindfulness refers to the practice of being hyper aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, and the stimulus of the environment around you—not in an anxiety-inducing way, but in a gentle and pleasant way. Mindfulness has been shown to produce "increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation." [18]

The affective domain represents one of the three divisions described in modern psychology: the other two being the behavioral, and the cognitive. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the "ABC's of psychology", [19] However, in certain views, the cognitive may be considered as a part of the affective, or the affective as a part of the cognitive [20] it is important to note that "cognitive and affective states … [are] merely analytic categories." [21]

"Affect" can mean an instinctual reaction to stimulation that occurs before the typical cognitive processes considered necessary for the formation of a more complex emotion. Robert B. Zajonc asserts this reaction to stimuli is primary for human beings and that it is the dominant reaction for non-human organisms. Zajonc suggests that affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding and be made sooner and with greater confidence than cognitive judgments (Zajonc, 1980).

Many theorists (e.g. Lazarus, 1982) consider affect to be post-cognitive: elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, such affective reactions as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure each result from a different prior cognitive process that makes a variety of content discriminations and identifies features, examines them to find value, and weighs them according to their contributions (Brewin, 1989). Some scholars (e.g. Lerner and Keltner 2000) argue that affect can be both pre- and post-cognitive: initial emotional responses produce thoughts, which produce affect. In a further iteration, some scholars argue that affect is necessary for enabling more rational modes of cognition (e.g. Damasio 1994).

A divergence from a narrow reinforcement model of emotion allows other perspectives about how affect influences emotional development. Thus, temperament, cognitive development, socialization patterns, and the idiosyncrasies of one's family or subculture might interact in nonlinear ways. For example, the temperament of a highly reactive/low self-soothing infant may "disproportionately" affect the process of emotion regulation in the early months of life (Griffiths, 1997).

Some other social sciences, such as geography or anthropology, have adopted the concept of affect during the last decade. In French psychoanalysis a major contribution to the field of affect comes from André Green. [22] The focus on affect has largely derived from the work of Deleuze and brought emotional and visceral concerns into such conventional discourses as those on geopolitics, urban life and material culture. Affect has also challenged methodologies of the social sciences by emphasizing somatic power over the idea of a removed objectivity and therefore has strong ties with the contemporary non-representational theory. [23]

A number of experiments have been conducted in the study of social and psychological affective preferences (i.e., what people like or dislike). Specific research has been done on preferences, attitudes, impression formation, and decision-making. This research contrasts findings with recognition memory (old-new judgments), allowing researchers to demonstrate reliable distinctions between the two. Affect-based judgments and cognitive processes have been examined with noted differences indicated, and some argue affect and cognition are under the control of separate and partially independent systems that can influence each other in a variety of ways (Zajonc, 1980). Both affect and cognition may constitute independent sources of effects within systems of information processing. Others suggest emotion is a result of an anticipated, experienced, or imagined outcome of an adaptational transaction between organism and environment, therefore cognitive appraisal processes are keys to the development and expression of an emotion (Lazarus, 1982).

Affect has been found across cultures to comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The most commonly used measure in scholarly research is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). [24] The PANAS is a lexical measure developed in a North American setting and consisting of 20 single-word items, for instance excited, alert, determined for positive affect, and upset, guilty, and jittery for negative affect. However, some of the PANAS items have been found either to be redundant or to have ambiguous meanings to English speakers from non-North American cultures. As a result, an internationally reliable short-form, the I-PANAS-SF, has been developed and validated comprising two 5-item scales with internal reliability, cross-sample and cross-cultural factorial invariance, temporal stability, convergent and criterion-related validities. [25]

Mroczek and Kolarz have also developed another set of scales to measure positive and negative affect. [26] Each of the scales has 6 items. The scales have shown evidence of acceptable validity and reliability across cultures. [26] [27] [28]

In relation to perception, a type of non-conscious affect may be separate from the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli. A monohierarchy of perception, affect and cognition considers the roles of arousal, attention tendencies, affective primacy (Zajonc, 1980), evolutionary constraints (Shepard, 1984 1994), and covert perception (Weiskrantz, 1997) within the sensing and processing of preferences and discriminations. Emotions are complex chains of events triggered by certain stimuli. There is no way to completely describe an emotion by knowing only some of its components. Verbal reports of feelings are often inaccurate because people may not know exactly what they feel, or they may feel several different emotions at the same time. There are also situations that arise in which individuals attempt to hide their feelings, and there are some who believe that public and private events seldom coincide exactly, and that words for feelings are generally more ambiguous than are words for objects or events. Therefore, non-conscious emotions need to be measured by measures circumventing self-report such as the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT Quirin, Kazén, & Kuhl, 2009).

Affective responses, on the other hand, are more basic and may be less problematic in terms of assessment. Brewin has proposed two experiential processes that frame non-cognitive relations between various affective experiences: those that are prewired dispositions (i.e. non-conscious processes), able to "select from the total stimulus array those stimuli that are causally relevant, using such criteria as perceptual salience, spatiotemporal cues, and predictive value in relation to data stored in memory" (Brewin, 1989, p. 381), and those that are automatic (i.e. subconscious processes), characterized as "rapid, relatively inflexible and difficult to modify. (requiring) minimal attention to occur and. (capable of being) activated without intention or awareness" (1989 p. 381). But a note should be considered on the differences between affect and emotion.

Arousal is a basic physiological response to the presentation of stimuli. When this occurs, a non-conscious affective process takes the form of two control mechanisms: one mobilizing and the other immobilizing. Within the human brain, the amygdala regulates an instinctual reaction initiating this arousal process, either freezing the individual or accelerating mobilization.

The arousal response is illustrated in studies focused on reward systems that control food-seeking behavior (Balleine, 2005). Researchers have focused on learning processes and modulatory processes that are present while encoding and retrieving goal values. When an organism seeks food, the anticipation of reward based on environmental events becomes another influence on food seeking that is separate from the reward of food itself. Therefore, earning the reward and anticipating the reward are separate processes and both create an excitatory influence of reward-related cues. Both processes are dissociated at the level of the amygdala, and are functionally integrated within larger neural systems.

Measuring cognitive scope Edit

Cognitive scope can be measured by tasks involving attention, perception, categorization and memory. Some studies use a flanker attention task to figure out whether cognitive scope is broadened or narrowed. For example, using the letters "H" and "N" participants need to identify as quickly as possible the middle letter of 5 when all the letters are the same (e.g. "HHHHH") and when the middle letter is different from the flanking letters (e.g. "HHNHH"). [29] Broadened cognitive scope would be indicated if reaction times differed greatly from when all the letters were the same compared to when the middle letter is different. [29] Other studies use a Navon attention task to measure difference in cognitive scope. A large letter is composed of smaller letters, in most cases smaller "L"'s or "F"'s that make up the shape of the letter "T" or "H" or vice versa. [30] Broadened cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the larger letter, whereas narrowed cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the smaller letters within the larger letter. [30] A source-monitoring paradigm can also be used to measure how much contextual information is perceived: for instance, participants are tasked to watch a screen which serially displays words to be memorized for 3 seconds each, and also have to remember whether the word appeared on the left or the right half of the screen. [31] The words were also encased in a colored box, but the participants did not know that they would eventually be asked what color box the word appeared in. [31]

Main research findings Edit

Motivation intensity refers to the strength of urge to move toward or away from a particular stimulus. [2]

Anger and fear affective states, induced via film clips, conferred more selective attention on a flanker task compared to controls as indicated by reaction times that were not very different, even when the flanking letters were different from the middle target letter. [2] [29] Both anger and fear have high motivational intensity because propulsion to act would be high in the face of an angry or fearful stimulus, like a screaming person or coiled snake. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on target information. [2] [29] After seeing a sad picture, participants were faster to identify the larger letter in a Navon attention task, suggesting more global or broadened cognitive scope. [2] [30] The sad emotion is thought to sometimes have low motivational intensity. But, after seeing a disgusting picture, participants were faster to identify the component letters, indicative of a localized more narrow cognitive scope. [2] [30] Disgust has high motivational intensity. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on central information. [2] [29] [30] whereas affects low in motivational intensity broadened cognitive scope allowing for faster global interpretation. [30] The changes in cognitive scope associated with different affective states is evolutionarily adaptive because high motivational intensity affects elicited by stimuli that require movement and action should be focused on, in a phenomenon known as goal-directed behavior. [32] For example, in early times seeing a lion (fearful stimulus) probably elicited a negative but high motivational affective state (fear) in which the human being was propelled to run away. In this case the goal would be to avoid getting killed.

Moving beyond just negative affective states, researchers wanted to test whether or not the negative or positive affective states varied between high and low motivational intensity. To evaluate this theory, Harmon-Jones, Gable and Price created an experiment using appetitive picture priming and the Navon task, which would allow them to measure the attentional scope with the detection of the Navon letters. The Navon task included a neutral affect comparison condition. Typically, neutral states cause broadened attention with a neutral stimulus. [33] They predicted that a broad attentional scope could cause a faster detection of global (large) letters, whereas a narrow attentional scope could cause a faster detection of local (small) letters. The evidence proved that the appetitive stimuli produced a narrowed attentional scope. The experimenters further increased the narrowed attentional scope in appetitive stimuli by telling participants they would be allowed to consume the desserts shown in the pictures. The results revealed that their hypothesis was correct in that the broad attentional scope led to quicker detection of global letters and the narrowed attentional scope led to quicker detection of local letters.

Researchers Bradley, Codispoti, Cuthbert and Lang wanted to further examine the emotional reactions in picture priming. Instead of using an appetitive stimulus they used stimulus sets from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). The image set includes various unpleasant pictures such as snakes, insects, attack scenes, accidents, illness, and loss. They predicted that the unpleasant picture would stimulate a defensive motivational intensity response, which would produce strong emotional arousal such as skin gland responses and cardiac deceleration. [34] Participants rated the pictures based on valence, arousal and dominance on the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) rating scale. The findings were consistent with the hypothesis and proved that emotion is organized motivationally by the intensity of activation in appetitive or defensive systems. [34]

Prior to research in 2013, Harmon-Jones and Gable performed an experiment to examine whether neural activation related with approach-motivation intensity (left frontal-central activity) would trigger the effect of appetitive stimuli on narrowed attention. They also tested whether individual dissimilarities in approach motivation are associated with attentional narrowing. In order to test the hypothesis, the researchers used the same Navon task with appetitive and neutral pictures in addition to having the participants indicate how long since they had last eaten in minutes. To examine the neural activation, the researchers used an electroencephalography and recorded eye movements in order to detect what regions of the brain were being used during approach motivation. The results supported the hypothesis suggesting that the left frontal-central hemisphere is relative for approach-motivational processes and narrowed attentional scope. [33] Some psychologists were concerned that the individuals who were hungry had an increase in the left frontal-central due to frustration. This statement was proved false because the research shows that the dessert pictures increase positive affect even in the hungry individuals. [33] The findings revealed that narrowed cognitive scope has the ability to assist us in goal accomplishment.

Clinical applications Edit

Later on, researchers connected motivational intensity to clinical applications and found that alcohol-related pictures caused narrowed attention for persons who had a strong motivation to consume alcohol. The researchers tested the participants by exposing them to alcohol and neutral pictures. After the picture was displayed on a screen, the participants finished a test evaluating attentional focus. The findings proved that exposure to alcohol-related pictures led to a narrowing of attentional focus to individuals who were motivated to use alcohol. [35] However, exposure to neutral pictures did not correlate with alcohol-related motivation to manipulate attentional focus. The Alcohol Myopia Theory (AMT) states that alcohol consumption reduces the amount of information available in memory, which also narrows attention so only the most proximal items or striking sources are encompassed in attentional scope. [35] This narrowed attention leads intoxicated persons to make more extreme decisions than they would when sober. Researchers provided evidence that substance-related stimuli capture the attention of individuals when they have high and intense motivation to consume the substance. Motivational intensity and cue-induced narrowing of attention has a unique role in shaping people's initial decision to consume alcohol. [35] In 2013, psychologists from the University of Missouri investigated the connection between sport achievement orientation and alcohol outcomes. They asked varsity athletes to complete a Sport Orientation Questionnaire which measured their sport-related achievement orientation on three scales—competitiveness, win orientation, and goal orientation. The participants also completed assessments of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. The results revealed that the goal orientation of the athletes were significantly associated with alcohol use but not alcohol-related problems. [36]

In terms of psychopathological implications and applications, college students showing depressive symptoms were better at retrieving seemingly "nonrelevant" contextual information from a source monitoring paradigm task. [31] Namely, the students with depressive symptoms were better at identifying the color of the box the word was in compared to nondepressed students. [31] Sadness (low motivational intensity) is usually [37] associated with depression, so the more broad focus on contextual information of sadder students supports that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden cognitive scope. [2] [31]

The motivational intensity theory states that the difficulty of a task combined with the importance of success determine the energy invested by an individual. [38] The theory has three main layers. The innermost layer says human behavior is guided by the desire to conserve as much energy as possible. Individuals aim to avoid wasting energy so they invest only the energy that is required to complete the task. The middle layer focuses on the difficulty of tasks combined with the importance of success and how this affects energy conservation. It focuses on energy investment in situations of clear and unclear task difficulty. The last layer looks at predictions for energy invested by a person when they have several possible options to choose at different task difficulties. [38] The person is free to choose among several possible options of task difficulty. The motivational intensity theory offers a logical and consistent framework for research. Researchers can predict a person's actions by assuming effort refers to the energy investment. The motivational intensity theory is used to show how changes in goal attractiveness and energy investment correlate.

Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus (i.e., its cause is self-evident), while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffuse. [39] Mood, according to Batson, Shaw and Oleson (1992), involves tone and intensity and a structured set of beliefs about general expectations of a future experience of pleasure or pain, or of positive or negative affect in the future. Unlike instant reactions that produce affect or emotion, and that change with expectations of future pleasure or pain, moods, being diffuse and unfocused and thus harder to cope with, can last for days, weeks, months or even years (Schucman, 1975). Moods are hypothetical constructs depicting an individual's emotional state. Researchers typically infer the existence of moods from a variety of behavioral referents (Blechman, 1990). Habitual negative affect and negative mood is characteristic of high neuroticism. [40]

Positive affect and negative affect (PANAS) represent independent domains of emotion in the general population, and positive affect is strongly linked to social interaction. Positive and negative daily events show independent relationships to subjective well-being, and positive affect is strongly linked to social activity. Recent research suggests that high functional support is related to higher levels of positive affect. In his work on negative affect arousal and white noise, Seidner found support for the existence of a negative affect arousal mechanism regarding the devaluation of speakers from other ethnic origins. [41] The exact process through which social support is linked to positive affect remains unclear. The process could derive from predictable, regularized social interaction, from leisure activities where the focus is on relaxation and positive mood, or from the enjoyment of shared activities. The techniques used to shift a negative mood to a positive one are called mood repair strategies.

Affect display is a critical facet of interpersonal communication. Evolutionary psychologists have advanced the hypothesis that hominids have evolved with sophisticated capability of reading affect displays. [42]

Emotions are portrayed as dynamic processes that mediate the individual's relation to a continually changing social environment. [43] In other words, emotions are considered to be processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting the relation between the organism and the environment on matters of significance to the person. [44]

Most social and psychological phenomena occur as the result of repeated interactions between multiple individuals over time. These interactions should be seen as a multi-agent system—a system that contains multiple agents interacting with each other and/or with their environments over time. The outcomes of individual agents' behaviors are interdependent: Each agent's ability to achieve its goals depends on not only what it does but also what other agents do. [45]

Emotions are one of the main sources for the interaction. Emotions of an individual influence the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of others others' reactions can then influence their future interactions with the individual expressing the original emotion, as well as that individual's future emotions and behaviors. Emotion operates in cycles that can involve multiple people in a process of reciprocal influence. [46]

Affect, emotion, or feeling is displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, voice characteristics, and other physical manifestation. These affect displays vary between and within cultures and are displayed in various forms ranging from the most discrete of facial expressions to the most dramatic and prolific gestures. [47]

Observers are sensitive to agents' emotions, and are capable of recognizing the messages these emotions convey. They react to and draw inferences from an agent's emotions. The emotion an agent displays may not be an authentic reflection of his or her actual state (See also Emotional labor).

Agents' emotions can have effects on four broad sets of factors:

  1. Emotions of other persons
  2. Inferences of other persons
  3. Behaviors of other persons
  4. Interactions and relationships between the agent and other persons.

Emotion may affect not only the person at whom it was directed, but also third parties who observe an agent's emotion. Moreover, emotions can affect larger social entities such as a group or a team. Emotions are a kind of message and therefore can influence the emotions, attributions and ensuing behaviors of others, potentially evoking a feedback process to the original agent.

Agents' feelings evoke feelings in others by two suggested distinct mechanisms:

  • Emotion contagion – people tend to automatically and unconsciously mimic non-verbal expressions. [48] Mimicking occurs also in interactions involving textual exchanges alone. [49]
  • Emotion interpretation – an individual may perceive an agent as feeling a particular emotion and react with complementary or situationally appropriate emotions of their own. The feelings of the others diverge from and in some way complement the feelings of the original agent.

People may not only react emotionally, but may also draw inferences about emotive agents such as the social status or power of an emotive agent, his competence and his credibility. [50] For example, an agent presumed to be angry may also be presumed to have high power. [51]


Reading / Math task for evoking affective states - Psychology

Cognitive control can be understood as an emotional process.

Negative affect is an integral, instantiating aspect of cognitive control.

Cognitive conflict has an emotional cost, evoking a host of emotional primitives.

Emotion is not an inert byproduct of conflict, but helps in recruiting control.

Often seen as the paragon of higher cognition, here we suggest that cognitive control is dependent on emotion. Rather than asking whether control is influenced by emotion, we ask whether control itself can be understood as an emotional process. Reviewing converging evidence from cybernetics, animal research, cognitive neuroscience, and social and personality psychology, we suggest that cognitive control is initiated when goal conflicts evoke phasic changes to emotional primitives that both focus attention on the presence of goal conflicts and energize conflict resolution to support goal-directed behavior. Critically, we propose that emotion is not an inert byproduct of conflict but is instrumental in recruiting control. Appreciating the emotional foundations of control leads to testable predictions that can spur future research.


Reading Anxiety: An Early Affective Impediment to Children’s Success in Reading

Learning to read is a critical but often challenging academic task for young children. In the current study, we explore the relation between children’s reading affect-–particularly anxiety-–and reading achievement in the early years of reading acquisition. We hypothesized that reading anxiety would relate to reading achievement across the school year and that boys and girls might show differential patterns in the relation between reading anxiety and achievement due to the common stereotype that boys underperform in reading. A sample of first and second grade students completed measures of reading anxiety, positive reading affect, math achievement, and reading achievement in the fall and spring. Results show that reading anxiety and reading achievement share a bi-directional relation in which fall reading anxiety predicts spring reading achievement and vice versa. Furthermore, the pattern of relation between reading anxiety and achievement differs by gender: boys appear more susceptible to the reciprocal damaging effects of reading anxiety on reading achievement across the school year. Finally, reading achievement shares a stronger relation with reading anxiety than with positive reading affect, perhaps because of the phenomenon in which negative relative to positive experiences have a greater psychological impact.


5 Types of Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension is the ability to easily and efficiently read text for meaning. It is the last step of the reading process taught to children, after they’ve acquired phonological processing skills and learned phonics, fluency, and vocabulary.

Five levels of reading comprehension can be taught to children.

Understand key vocabulary in the text.

  • Preview vocabulary before reading the story or text
  • Review new vocabulary during or after reading the text

Answer Who, What, When and Where questions.

  • Look in the text to find the answers written in the story.
  • Ask questions from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Answer What If, Why, and How questions.

  • Understand “facts” that are not explicitly stated in the story.
  • Use illustrations to infer meaning.

Relate story to existing knowledge or opinion.

  • Ask questions that have no right or wrong answer.
  • Challenge children to support their answers with logic or reason.

Understand social and emotional aspects.

  • Preview social scripts to ensure understanding of plot development.
  • Connect motive to plot and character development.

To really understand these different levels, let’s take a familiar text and see how different types of questions probe different understandings of the same story.

The fairy tale Cinderella tells the story of a young girl, whose evil stepmother won’t let her go to the ball. Cinderalla’s fairy godmother, however, magically whisks her off for the night and Cinderella eventually marries her Prince Charming.

Read More: Find out how to use Reading Level Charts to match appropriately challenging books to a child’s reading ability.


Clinical Neuroscience Lab

Research in the Clinical Neuroscience Lab has two primary aims. First, our research focuses on understanding cognitive and affective changes in neuropsychological functioning in the context of aging and multiple sclerosis. By combining neuropsychological, behavioral, and neuroimaging methods, we aim to systematically parse the contributions of different parameters underlying the specific cognitive mechanisms. Second, we are interested in understanding the effects and mechanisms of mind-body interventions on neuropsychological rehabilitation. Through this line of research, we aim to systematically assess the efficacy of various lifestyle and mind-body approaches in improving cognitive functioning and emotion dysregulation.

This lab is currently conducting two large-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The first RCT, funded by the National Institute on Aging, seeks to examine the impacts of mind-body practices on cognition ad emotion in older adults. The RCT, funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, is a behavioral monitoring intervention study to potentially improve cognition in individuals with multiple sclerosis.


Materials and Methods

Subjects

A total of 183 children were recruited and their parents agreed to participate. The aim was that approximately half of the children had a diagnosis of DD and the other half with typical development to achieve equally sized groups. Of the 183 children, 172 children (aged 7.3�.3 years, mean 8.6 years, 69.8% female) met the general inclusion criteria and hence comprised the final study sample. 76 children (44.2%) further met the criteria for DD, the other 96 children served as control children (CC) (see also Table 1 for demographic and behavioral data). The children were recruited in Germany (Berlin, Potsdam) and Switzerland (Zurich).

Table 1. Demographic and behavioral data of the sample.

General Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Of the originally 183 children, a total of 11 children (6%) were excluded from the data analyses due to the following criteria: Three children were excluded because their Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was above 120. Seven children were excluded due to psychiatric diagnoses. One child was excluded due to undefined group membership (with mathematical performance T = 40.44, see criteria for classification of DD).

Parents gave written consent and children received a voucher for their participation. The study was approved by the local ethics committee based on guidelines from the World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki (WMA, 2002).

Classification of DD

Classification of DD was based on the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V (APA, 2013): criterion (A) severe math problems for more than 6 months criterion (B) Low achievement scores in one or more standardized mathematical tests (1𠄲.5 SD below the population mean for age) criterion (C) mathematical difficulties readily apparent in the early school years criterion (D) not attributable to intellectual disabilities (IQ > 70), global developmental delay, hearing or vision disorders, or neurological or motor disorders. In the present study, mathematical performance was assessed in all children by a careful selection of standardized neuropsychological tests particularly designed for the clinical assessment of DD (for detailed description see section Cognitive Assessments). To be classified as having DD, the mean T-value of mathematical performance had to be lower than 40 (ρ SD). In addition, general intelligence had to be in the normal range (85 < IQ < 114, N = 173 or marginally above IQ 115�, N = 7) with no evidence of any psychiatric disease. According to DSM-V, the discrepancy between mathematical performance and individual IQ is not a requirement for diagnosis, nevertheless, 78% of the DD children showed a discrepancy between mathematical performance and IQ of more than one standard deviation (N = 59, mean discrepancy = 14.3 t-value), and 22% showed a lower discrepancy between both measures (N = 17, mean discrepancy = 7.1 t-value).

Cognitive Assessments

Intelligence

Estimated intelligence was measured by the mean of different IQ subtests. Mean IQ of children recruited in Switzerland was based on six subtests of the standardized Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) test battery (block design, similarities, digit span, picture concepts, vocabulary, and arithmetic) (Petermann and Petermann, 2007). The mean IQ of children recruited in Germany was based on four subtests, including two of the WISC-IV (block design, similarities) and two of the test battery �sisdiagnostik Umschriebener Entwicklungsstörungen im Grundschulalter” (BUEGA) (Esser et al., 2008).

Mathematical Performance

The main mathematical and numerical performance for children recruited in Switzerland was assessed using the two subtests of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT) (addition, subtraction) (Haffner et al., 2005) and the standardized Neuropsychological Test Battery for Number Processing and Calculation in Children (ZAREKI-R) (von Aster et al., 2006). This neuropsychological battery examines basic skills in calculation and arithmetic and aims to identify and characterize the profile of mathematical abilities in children with DD from the 1st to 4th grade level. It is composed of 11 subtests, such as reverse counting, subtraction, number reading, dictating, visual estimation of quantities, and digit span forward and backward. Mean number processing for children recruited in Germany was assessed using four subtests, namely two of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT) (addition, subtraction) (Haffner et al., 2005), the number line task II of the ZAREKI-R and the calculation test of the BUEGA (Esser et al., 2008). The calculation test of the BUEGA evaluates by text problems, which are illustrated in pictures, the knowledge of number comparisons, magnitudes, sizes, and the understanding and use of the four basic arithmetical operations. Criteria for DD for both Swiss and German children were met if a child's performance was below a mean T-value of 40.

Mathematics Anxiety

Mathematics anxiety was assessed by the Math-Anxiety-Interview for German speaking primary school children (MAI), which is a valid and reliable measure for the assessment of math anxiety as demonstrated by a Cronbach's alpha of 0.90 (Kohn et al., 2013). The MAI combines two different types of questions while four math related situations are verbally and pictorially presented (1st on the eve of a math test, 2nd math homework, 3rd math class, and 4th everyday/shopping). The child is initially asked to rate the intensity of his or her anxiety concerning the presented situation by an anxiety thermometer from 0 to 10. In a second step, the different components of anxiety (affective, cognitive, behavioral and physiological) are explored. The child is asked to estimate, to what extent specific statements apply to the particular situation, e.g., “I cannot get a word out.” For the present study we have chosen the mean math anxiety intensity associated with all four situations which provides a valid and reliable measure from 0 = no anxiety to 10 = very strong math anxiety in primary school children.

Arithmetic Fluency

Arithmetic fluency was evaluated using the addition and subtraction subtests of the Heidelberger Rechentest (HRT). In this test, a list of 40 addition or subtraction tasks is presented to the child and he/she is asked to solve as many problems as possible within 2 min.

Number Line Performance

The spatial representation of numbers was measured by a paper-and-pencil number line task (Kucian et al., 2011). Children had to indicate with a pencil on a left-to-right oriented number line from 0 to 100 the location of 20 Arabic digits, the results of 20 additions and 20 subtractions, and the estimated number of 10 different dot arrays. The accuracy was measured by calculating the percentage distance from the marked to the correct position of the given number (=%deviation). Only the correctly calculated addition and subtraction problems were included, but the percentage of correctly solved addition or subtraction trials was also calculated.

Working Memory

Spatial working memory was assessed by the Block Suppression Test (Beblo et al., 2004). This test is based on the CORSI-Block Tapping test (Schellig, 1997) and requires the subject to reproduce every second block in a given sequence of touched cubes on a wooden board as the examiner demonstrated. While the sequences gradually increase in length, the number of cubes last tapped in two consecutively correct sequences is defined as the maximum spatial working memory span.

Priming Task

To assess the affective effects of primes on calculation an adapted version of the task developed by Rubinsten and Tannock (2010) was used. It included four different types of primes (words with either positive, negative or neutral affect and words related to mathematics) and single-digit arithmetic problems (additions and subtractions) served as targets. As illustrated in Figure 1, each trial consisted of a prime presented aurally via headphones followed by an arithmetical problem. Reaction time in milliseconds was measured by the computer from the target onset to the participant's response. Each participant underwent in total 80 trials.

Figure 1. Paradigm. The paradigm consisted of a priming task including a prime and a target. Primes were either positive, negative, neutral or mathematics-related and were presented aurally while children focused on a fixation star for 2 s. Then a subtraction or addition problem followed as the target and children had to inadequate whether it was true or false by pressing either button p or q on the keyboard. This presentation of the target was self-paced with a maximum of 4 s. The trial ended with the presentation of a blank screen for 1 s.

The primes were comprised of 40 words, including 10 per affective dimension (e.g., sun as a positive affective word, wood as a neutral affective word, prison as a negative affective word and count as a mathematic related word). The words were selected from the “The Berlin Affective Word List Reloaded” (BAWL-R), which contains a large set of psycholinguistic indexes known to influence word processing, and also features ratings of the emotional arousal, emotional valence and imageability of each word (Võ et al., 2009). Since the word ratings of the BAWL-R were based on ratings from 200 adults, we selected 61 words, which were balanced for the number of letters, number of syllables, type of word (noun, verb, adjective), and emotional valence (positive, negative, neutral) or with mathematics related content and had them re-evaluated by a group of children. In total 123 children from the 2nd (N = 29), 3rd (N = 30), 4th (N = 32), and 5th (N = 32) grade rated these words. They were asked to indicate how they felt when they heard the word by marking a five-stepped smiley scale from happy to sad smileys, and to indicate if the word was related to mathematics, yes or no. Obtained ratings were analyzed for all children, as well as for each grade and for girls or boys separately. Consideration of these findings led to the final word list that was used in the present priming task. Please see Table S7 for a detailed description of the words.

The arithmetic problems were presented in the form 𠇊 * b = c,” where a and b represent single digits from 1 to 9, * represents an arithmetic operation (+ or –) and c represents the solution, which also consisted of only one digit (e.g., 2 + 1 = 3 as a correct addition target). The type of arithmetic operation (each prime was once followed by an addition and once by a subtraction problem) and whether the problem was true or false were balanced between affective dimensions of primes and presented in a randomized order.

The present task differed from the original one of Rubinsten and Tannock (2010) in the following aspects: We have simplified the task by reducing the total number of trials from 160 to 80 by excluding multiplication and division arithmetic problems. Furthermore, the maximal response latency was extended from 3,000 to 4,000 ms. Moreover, we only included single digit solutions. Whereas Rubinsten and Tannock presented the primes visually in English, we presented the primes aurally in German. These changes in the priming task were conducted to adapt the paradigm to our younger cohort, consisting mostly of children in grades 2 or 3, whereas subjects in the study of Rubinsten and Tannock were in grades 4 or above.

Data Analyses

Data were analyzed by IBM SPSS Statistics Version 24 (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, 2016). Raw data of the priming task were extracted from E-Prime (E-Prime, 2002) and converted into SPSS. First, all behavioral data were tested for normality by the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. If the data followed a normal distribution, groups were compared by parametric independent-sample t-tests. If data were not normally distributed, the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U-test for two independent samples was used. Nominal data (gender) was compared between control children and the DD group with a chi-squared test. P-values lower than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. To evaluate the effects of the priming task a general linear model analysis was conducted with RT as dependent variable. The 4 (type of prime: positive/negative/neutral/mathematics-related) × 2 (arithmetic operation: addition/subtraction) repeated measures ANCOVA defined type of prime and arithmetic operation as within-subject factors and group (CC/DD) as the between-subject factor. Since DD and CC groups differed in age, age was included as a covariate to exclude the possibility that group differences might be based on age differences. Regarding IQ, it was expected that children with DD show a lower mean IQ compared to typically achieving peers as IQ measures are not fully independent from measures of math ability (Lambert and Spinath, 2018). In our analyses, we decided not to match groups on IQ, because one would have artificially influence the pattern of the normal population of DD or CC children. Moreover, IQ not to include as covariate in statistical analyses, which is in line with the suggestion of Dennis et al. (2009), who state that it is misguided and unjustified to attempt to control for IQ differences for cognitive outcome. However, we repeated the all tests with IQ and age as covariates showing that the main results did not change.


Affect (psychology)

Affective states are psycho-physiological constructs—meaning, largely, concepts that connect mental and physical processes. According to most current views, they vary along three principal dimensions: valence, arousal, and motivational intensity. [2]

  • Valence is the subjective spectrum of positive-to-negative evaluation of an experience an individual may have had. Emotional valence refers to the emotion's consequences, emotion-eliciting circumstances, or subjective feelings or attitudes. [3]
  • Arousal is objectively measurable as activation of the sympathetic nervous system, but can also be assessed subjectively via self-report.
  • Motivational intensity refers to the impulsion to act [4] the strength of an urge to move toward or away from a stimulus and whether or not to interact with said stimulus. Simply moving is not considered approach (or avoidance) motivation [5]

It is important to note that arousal is different from motivational intensity. While arousal is a construct that is closely related to motivational intensity, they differ in that motivation necessarily implies action while arousal does not. [6]

Affect is sometimes used to mean affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" (APA 2006). [7]

In psychology, affect brings about an organism's interaction with stimuli.

Affect can influence cognitive scope (the breadth of cognitive processes [8] ). Initially, it was thought that positive affects broadened whereas negative affects narrowed cognitive scope. [2] However, evidence now suggests that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden it. The construct of cognitive scope could be valuable in cognitive psychology. [2]

According to a research article about affect tolerance written by psychiatrist Jerome Sashin, "Affect tolerance can be defined as the ability to respond to a stimulus which would ordinarily be expected to evoke affects by the subjective experiencing of feelings." [9] Essentially it refers to one's ability to react to emotions and feelings. One who is low in affect tolerance would show little to no reaction to emotion and feeling of any kind. This is closely related to alexithymia.

"Alexithymia is a subclinical phenomenon involving a lack of emotional awareness or, more specifically, difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and in distinguishing feelings from the bodily sensations of emotional arousal" [10] At its core, alexithymia is an inability for an individual to recognize what emotions they are feeling—as well as an inability to describe them. According to Dalya Samur and colleagues, [11] people with alexithymia have been shown to have correlations with increased suicide rates, [12] mental discomfort, [13] and deaths. [14]

Affect tolerance [15] [16] factors, including anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, and emotional distress tolerance, may be helped by mindfulness. [17] Mindfulness refers to the practice of being hyper aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, and the stimulus of the environment around you—not in an anxiety-inducing way, but in a gentle and pleasant way. Mindfulness has been shown to produce "increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation." [18]

The affective domain represents one of the three divisions described in modern psychology: the other two being the behavioral, and the cognitive. Classically, these divisions have also been referred to as the "ABC's of psychology", [19] However, in certain views, the cognitive may be considered as a part of the affective, or the affective as a part of the cognitive [20] it is important to note that "cognitive and affective states … [are] merely analytic categories." [21]

"Affect" can mean an instinctual reaction to stimulation that occurs before the typical cognitive processes considered necessary for the formation of a more complex emotion. Robert B. Zajonc asserts this reaction to stimuli is primary for human beings and that it is the dominant reaction for non-human organisms. Zajonc suggests that affective reactions can occur without extensive perceptual and cognitive encoding and be made sooner and with greater confidence than cognitive judgments (Zajonc, 1980).

Many theorists (e.g. Lazarus, 1982) consider affect to be post-cognitive: elicited only after a certain amount of cognitive processing of information has been accomplished. In this view, such affective reactions as liking, disliking, evaluation, or the experience of pleasure or displeasure each result from a different prior cognitive process that makes a variety of content discriminations and identifies features, examines them to find value, and weighs them according to their contributions (Brewin, 1989). Some scholars (e.g. Lerner and Keltner 2000) argue that affect can be both pre- and post-cognitive: initial emotional responses produce thoughts, which produce affect. In a further iteration, some scholars argue that affect is necessary for enabling more rational modes of cognition (e.g. Damasio 1994).

A divergence from a narrow reinforcement model of emotion allows other perspectives about how affect influences emotional development. Thus, temperament, cognitive development, socialization patterns, and the idiosyncrasies of one's family or subculture might interact in nonlinear ways. For example, the temperament of a highly reactive/low self-soothing infant may "disproportionately" affect the process of emotion regulation in the early months of life (Griffiths, 1997).

Some other social sciences, such as geography or anthropology, have adopted the concept of affect during the last decade. In French psychoanalysis a major contribution to the field of affect comes from André Green. [22] The focus on affect has largely derived from the work of Deleuze and brought emotional and visceral concerns into such conventional discourses as those on geopolitics, urban life and material culture. Affect has also challenged methodologies of the social sciences by emphasizing somatic power over the idea of a removed objectivity and therefore has strong ties with the contemporary non-representational theory. [23]

A number of experiments have been conducted in the study of social and psychological affective preferences (i.e., what people like or dislike). Specific research has been done on preferences, attitudes, impression formation, and decision-making. This research contrasts findings with recognition memory (old-new judgments), allowing researchers to demonstrate reliable distinctions between the two. Affect-based judgments and cognitive processes have been examined with noted differences indicated, and some argue affect and cognition are under the control of separate and partially independent systems that can influence each other in a variety of ways (Zajonc, 1980). Both affect and cognition may constitute independent sources of effects within systems of information processing. Others suggest emotion is a result of an anticipated, experienced, or imagined outcome of an adaptational transaction between organism and environment, therefore cognitive appraisal processes are keys to the development and expression of an emotion (Lazarus, 1982).

Affect has been found across cultures to comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The most commonly used measure in scholarly research is the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). [24] The PANAS is a lexical measure developed in a North American setting and consisting of 20 single-word items, for instance excited, alert, determined for positive affect, and upset, guilty, and jittery for negative affect. However, some of the PANAS items have been found either to be redundant or to have ambiguous meanings to English speakers from non-North American cultures. As a result, an internationally reliable short-form, the I-PANAS-SF, has been developed and validated comprising two 5-item scales with internal reliability, cross-sample and cross-cultural factorial invariance, temporal stability, convergent and criterion-related validities. [25]

Mroczek and Kolarz have also developed another set of scales to measure positive and negative affect. [26] Each of the scales has 6 items. The scales have shown evidence of acceptable validity and reliability across cultures. [26] [27] [28]

In relation to perception, a type of non-conscious affect may be separate from the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli. A monohierarchy of perception, affect and cognition considers the roles of arousal, attention tendencies, affective primacy (Zajonc, 1980), evolutionary constraints (Shepard, 1984 1994), and covert perception (Weiskrantz, 1997) within the sensing and processing of preferences and discriminations. Emotions are complex chains of events triggered by certain stimuli. There is no way to completely describe an emotion by knowing only some of its components. Verbal reports of feelings are often inaccurate because people may not know exactly what they feel, or they may feel several different emotions at the same time. There are also situations that arise in which individuals attempt to hide their feelings, and there are some who believe that public and private events seldom coincide exactly, and that words for feelings are generally more ambiguous than are words for objects or events. Therefore, non-conscious emotions need to be measured by measures circumventing self-report such as the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT Quirin, Kazén, & Kuhl, 2009).

Affective responses, on the other hand, are more basic and may be less problematic in terms of assessment. Brewin has proposed two experiential processes that frame non-cognitive relations between various affective experiences: those that are prewired dispositions (i.e. non-conscious processes), able to "select from the total stimulus array those stimuli that are causally relevant, using such criteria as perceptual salience, spatiotemporal cues, and predictive value in relation to data stored in memory" (Brewin, 1989, p. 381), and those that are automatic (i.e. subconscious processes), characterized as "rapid, relatively inflexible and difficult to modify. (requiring) minimal attention to occur and. (capable of being) activated without intention or awareness" (1989 p. 381). But a note should be considered on the differences between affect and emotion.

Arousal is a basic physiological response to the presentation of stimuli. When this occurs, a non-conscious affective process takes the form of two control mechanisms: one mobilizing and the other immobilizing. Within the human brain, the amygdala regulates an instinctual reaction initiating this arousal process, either freezing the individual or accelerating mobilization.

The arousal response is illustrated in studies focused on reward systems that control food-seeking behavior (Balleine, 2005). Researchers have focused on learning processes and modulatory processes that are present while encoding and retrieving goal values. When an organism seeks food, the anticipation of reward based on environmental events becomes another influence on food seeking that is separate from the reward of food itself. Therefore, earning the reward and anticipating the reward are separate processes and both create an excitatory influence of reward-related cues. Both processes are dissociated at the level of the amygdala, and are functionally integrated within larger neural systems.

Measuring cognitive scope Edit

Cognitive scope can be measured by tasks involving attention, perception, categorization and memory. Some studies use a flanker attention task to figure out whether cognitive scope is broadened or narrowed. For example, using the letters "H" and "N" participants need to identify as quickly as possible the middle letter of 5 when all the letters are the same (e.g. "HHHHH") and when the middle letter is different from the flanking letters (e.g. "HHNHH"). [29] Broadened cognitive scope would be indicated if reaction times differed greatly from when all the letters were the same compared to when the middle letter is different. [29] Other studies use a Navon attention task to measure difference in cognitive scope. A large letter is composed of smaller letters, in most cases smaller "L"'s or "F"'s that make up the shape of the letter "T" or "H" or vice versa. [30] Broadened cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the larger letter, whereas narrowed cognitive scope would be suggested by a faster reaction to name the smaller letters within the larger letter. [30] A source-monitoring paradigm can also be used to measure how much contextual information is perceived: for instance, participants are tasked to watch a screen which serially displays words to be memorized for 3 seconds each, and also have to remember whether the word appeared on the left or the right half of the screen. [31] The words were also encased in a colored box, but the participants did not know that they would eventually be asked what color box the word appeared in. [31]

Main research findings Edit

Motivation intensity refers to the strength of urge to move toward or away from a particular stimulus. [2]

Anger and fear affective states, induced via film clips, conferred more selective attention on a flanker task compared to controls as indicated by reaction times that were not very different, even when the flanking letters were different from the middle target letter. [2] [29] Both anger and fear have high motivational intensity because propulsion to act would be high in the face of an angry or fearful stimulus, like a screaming person or coiled snake. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on target information. [2] [29] After seeing a sad picture, participants were faster to identify the larger letter in a Navon attention task, suggesting more global or broadened cognitive scope. [2] [30] The sad emotion is thought to sometimes have low motivational intensity. But, after seeing a disgusting picture, participants were faster to identify the component letters, indicative of a localized more narrow cognitive scope. [2] [30] Disgust has high motivational intensity. Affects high in motivational intensity, thus, narrow cognitive scope making people able to focus more on central information. [2] [29] [30] whereas affects low in motivational intensity broadened cognitive scope allowing for faster global interpretation. [30] The changes in cognitive scope associated with different affective states is evolutionarily adaptive because high motivational intensity affects elicited by stimuli that require movement and action should be focused on, in a phenomenon known as goal-directed behavior. [32] For example, in early times seeing a lion (fearful stimulus) probably elicited a negative but high motivational affective state (fear) in which the human being was propelled to run away. In this case the goal would be to avoid getting killed.

Moving beyond just negative affective states, researchers wanted to test whether or not the negative or positive affective states varied between high and low motivational intensity. To evaluate this theory, Harmon-Jones, Gable and Price created an experiment using appetitive picture priming and the Navon task, which would allow them to measure the attentional scope with the detection of the Navon letters. The Navon task included a neutral affect comparison condition. Typically, neutral states cause broadened attention with a neutral stimulus. [33] They predicted that a broad attentional scope could cause a faster detection of global (large) letters, whereas a narrow attentional scope could cause a faster detection of local (small) letters. The evidence proved that the appetitive stimuli produced a narrowed attentional scope. The experimenters further increased the narrowed attentional scope in appetitive stimuli by telling participants they would be allowed to consume the desserts shown in the pictures. The results revealed that their hypothesis was correct in that the broad attentional scope led to quicker detection of global letters and the narrowed attentional scope led to quicker detection of local letters.

Researchers Bradley, Codispoti, Cuthbert and Lang wanted to further examine the emotional reactions in picture priming. Instead of using an appetitive stimulus they used stimulus sets from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). The image set includes various unpleasant pictures such as snakes, insects, attack scenes, accidents, illness, and loss. They predicted that the unpleasant picture would stimulate a defensive motivational intensity response, which would produce strong emotional arousal such as skin gland responses and cardiac deceleration. [34] Participants rated the pictures based on valence, arousal and dominance on the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) rating scale. The findings were consistent with the hypothesis and proved that emotion is organized motivationally by the intensity of activation in appetitive or defensive systems. [34]

Prior to research in 2013, Harmon-Jones and Gable performed an experiment to examine whether neural activation related with approach-motivation intensity (left frontal-central activity) would trigger the effect of appetitive stimuli on narrowed attention. They also tested whether individual dissimilarities in approach motivation are associated with attentional narrowing. In order to test the hypothesis, the researchers used the same Navon task with appetitive and neutral pictures in addition to having the participants indicate how long since they had last eaten in minutes. To examine the neural activation, the researchers used an electroencephalography and recorded eye movements in order to detect what regions of the brain were being used during approach motivation. The results supported the hypothesis suggesting that the left frontal-central hemisphere is relative for approach-motivational processes and narrowed attentional scope. [33] Some psychologists were concerned that the individuals who were hungry had an increase in the left frontal-central due to frustration. This statement was proved false because the research shows that the dessert pictures increase positive affect even in the hungry individuals. [33] The findings revealed that narrowed cognitive scope has the ability to assist us in goal accomplishment.

Clinical applications Edit

Later on, researchers connected motivational intensity to clinical applications and found that alcohol-related pictures caused narrowed attention for persons who had a strong motivation to consume alcohol. The researchers tested the participants by exposing them to alcohol and neutral pictures. After the picture was displayed on a screen, the participants finished a test evaluating attentional focus. The findings proved that exposure to alcohol-related pictures led to a narrowing of attentional focus to individuals who were motivated to use alcohol. [35] However, exposure to neutral pictures did not correlate with alcohol-related motivation to manipulate attentional focus. The Alcohol Myopia Theory (AMT) states that alcohol consumption reduces the amount of information available in memory, which also narrows attention so only the most proximal items or striking sources are encompassed in attentional scope. [35] This narrowed attention leads intoxicated persons to make more extreme decisions than they would when sober. Researchers provided evidence that substance-related stimuli capture the attention of individuals when they have high and intense motivation to consume the substance. Motivational intensity and cue-induced narrowing of attention has a unique role in shaping people's initial decision to consume alcohol. [35] In 2013, psychologists from the University of Missouri investigated the connection between sport achievement orientation and alcohol outcomes. They asked varsity athletes to complete a Sport Orientation Questionnaire which measured their sport-related achievement orientation on three scales—competitiveness, win orientation, and goal orientation. The participants also completed assessments of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. The results revealed that the goal orientation of the athletes were significantly associated with alcohol use but not alcohol-related problems. [36]

In terms of psychopathological implications and applications, college students showing depressive symptoms were better at retrieving seemingly "nonrelevant" contextual information from a source monitoring paradigm task. [31] Namely, the students with depressive symptoms were better at identifying the color of the box the word was in compared to nondepressed students. [31] Sadness (low motivational intensity) is usually [37] associated with depression, so the more broad focus on contextual information of sadder students supports that affects high in motivational intensity narrow cognitive scope whereas affects low in motivational intensity broaden cognitive scope. [2] [31]

The motivational intensity theory states that the difficulty of a task combined with the importance of success determine the energy invested by an individual. [38] The theory has three main layers. The innermost layer says human behavior is guided by the desire to conserve as much energy as possible. Individuals aim to avoid wasting energy so they invest only the energy that is required to complete the task. The middle layer focuses on the difficulty of tasks combined with the importance of success and how this affects energy conservation. It focuses on energy investment in situations of clear and unclear task difficulty. The last layer looks at predictions for energy invested by a person when they have several possible options to choose at different task difficulties. [38] The person is free to choose among several possible options of task difficulty. The motivational intensity theory offers a logical and consistent framework for research. Researchers can predict a person's actions by assuming effort refers to the energy investment. The motivational intensity theory is used to show how changes in goal attractiveness and energy investment correlate.

Mood, like emotion, is an affective state. However, an emotion tends to have a clear focus (i.e., its cause is self-evident), while mood tends to be more unfocused and diffuse. [39] Mood, according to Batson, Shaw and Oleson (1992), involves tone and intensity and a structured set of beliefs about general expectations of a future experience of pleasure or pain, or of positive or negative affect in the future. Unlike instant reactions that produce affect or emotion, and that change with expectations of future pleasure or pain, moods, being diffuse and unfocused and thus harder to cope with, can last for days, weeks, months or even years (Schucman, 1975). Moods are hypothetical constructs depicting an individual's emotional state. Researchers typically infer the existence of moods from a variety of behavioral referents (Blechman, 1990). Habitual negative affect and negative mood is characteristic of high neuroticism. [40]

Positive affect and negative affect (PANAS) represent independent domains of emotion in the general population, and positive affect is strongly linked to social interaction. Positive and negative daily events show independent relationships to subjective well-being, and positive affect is strongly linked to social activity. Recent research suggests that high functional support is related to higher levels of positive affect. In his work on negative affect arousal and white noise, Seidner found support for the existence of a negative affect arousal mechanism regarding the devaluation of speakers from other ethnic origins. [41] The exact process through which social support is linked to positive affect remains unclear. The process could derive from predictable, regularized social interaction, from leisure activities where the focus is on relaxation and positive mood, or from the enjoyment of shared activities. The techniques used to shift a negative mood to a positive one are called mood repair strategies.

Affect display is a critical facet of interpersonal communication. Evolutionary psychologists have advanced the hypothesis that hominids have evolved with sophisticated capability of reading affect displays. [42]

Emotions are portrayed as dynamic processes that mediate the individual's relation to a continually changing social environment. [43] In other words, emotions are considered to be processes of establishing, maintaining, or disrupting the relation between the organism and the environment on matters of significance to the person. [44]

Most social and psychological phenomena occur as the result of repeated interactions between multiple individuals over time. These interactions should be seen as a multi-agent system—a system that contains multiple agents interacting with each other and/or with their environments over time. The outcomes of individual agents' behaviors are interdependent: Each agent's ability to achieve its goals depends on not only what it does but also what other agents do. [45]

Emotions are one of the main sources for the interaction. Emotions of an individual influence the emotions, thoughts and behaviors of others others' reactions can then influence their future interactions with the individual expressing the original emotion, as well as that individual's future emotions and behaviors. Emotion operates in cycles that can involve multiple people in a process of reciprocal influence. [46]

Affect, emotion, or feeling is displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, voice characteristics, and other physical manifestation. These affect displays vary between and within cultures and are displayed in various forms ranging from the most discrete of facial expressions to the most dramatic and prolific gestures. [47]

Observers are sensitive to agents' emotions, and are capable of recognizing the messages these emotions convey. They react to and draw inferences from an agent's emotions. The emotion an agent displays may not be an authentic reflection of his or her actual state (See also Emotional labor).

Agents' emotions can have effects on four broad sets of factors:

  1. Emotions of other persons
  2. Inferences of other persons
  3. Behaviors of other persons
  4. Interactions and relationships between the agent and other persons.

Emotion may affect not only the person at whom it was directed, but also third parties who observe an agent's emotion. Moreover, emotions can affect larger social entities such as a group or a team. Emotions are a kind of message and therefore can influence the emotions, attributions and ensuing behaviors of others, potentially evoking a feedback process to the original agent.

Agents' feelings evoke feelings in others by two suggested distinct mechanisms:

  • Emotion contagion – people tend to automatically and unconsciously mimic non-verbal expressions. [48] Mimicking occurs also in interactions involving textual exchanges alone. [49]
  • Emotion interpretation – an individual may perceive an agent as feeling a particular emotion and react with complementary or situationally appropriate emotions of their own. The feelings of the others diverge from and in some way complement the feelings of the original agent.

People may not only react emotionally, but may also draw inferences about emotive agents such as the social status or power of an emotive agent, his competence and his credibility. [50] For example, an agent presumed to be angry may also be presumed to have high power. [51]


Abstract

Drawing on social cognitive perspectives, the present study examined an integrative model of the interplay among math self-efficacy, interests, aspirations, and achievement among early and middle adolescents. Based on short-term longitudinal data from approximately 400 students, analyses using fully latent structural equation analyses, establishing requisite levels of longitudinal invariance, revealed that (a) math self-efficacy positively predicted math achievement using both class grades and standardized test score operationalizations (b) prior math achievement positively predicted basal levels of math self-efficacy but not changes in self-efficacy (c) math interest and intentions were reciprocally linked over time and (d) prior math interest positively predicted subsequent math self-efficacy whereas the opposite was not true. Notably, all effects were observed while accounting for prior variance in outcomes as well as the effects of known covariates. The current findings contribute to understandings of the motivational processes involved in math achievement and choosing educational pathways, and suggest that multidimensional interventions may be most profitable if both achievement and selection outcomes are at stake.


Watch the video: Easy Maths 1 - part 1 (August 2022).