Explicating the Emotion Spillover Effect: At the Intersection of Motivational Activation, Resource Allocation, and Consolidation

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Abstract

This study proposed and tested the idea that the processing of advertisements following emotionally arousing stimuli is a function of the interaction between motivational system activation and consolidation of the preceding message content in memory. To explain this phenomenon, two competing hypotheses were posed: the motivational decay hypothesis and the consolidation interference hypothesis. Physiological, behavioral, and self-reported data were used to test the predictions. The results demonstrated higher levels of physiological arousal and higher levels of physiological and self-reported positivity and negativity when processing advertisements preceded by arousing positive and negative movie clips. The heart rate data showed that the appetitive motivational system facilitated higher cognitive effort (slower heart rate), and the aversive motivational system facilitated lower cognitive effort (faster heart rate). The state of cognitive overload was reached during the first 10 s of the ads following negative arousing clips, while during ads following positive arousing clips, the cognitive system functioned at the maximum of its capacity. Overall, the results are more supportive of the consolidation interference hypothesis.

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