Social Information Influences Emotional Experience and Late Positive Potential Response to Affective Pictures

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Emotion experience and regulation frequently occur in social settings. Social influence is a common source of unconscious change in judgment in many contexts, but it has yet to be investigated as a form of automatic emotion regulation. Here, we demonstrate that nonpredictive social information (i.e., high or low “emotion intensity ratings from other people” that were not related to the actual intensity of the pictures) about the intensity of pleasant and unpleasant picture stimuli can influence self-reported emotional experience and the magnitude of the late positive potential, an event-related potential associated with the detection of emotional salience and sustained attention to motivationally significant stimulus features. These results show that emotional responses to pleasant and unpleasant affective pictures can be altered by nonpredictive social information on both the behavioral and the neurophysiological level.

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