The Effect of Positive Mood on Flexible Processing of Affective Information

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Abstract

Recent efforts have been made to understand the cognitive mechanisms underlying psychological resilience. Cognitive flexibility in the context of affective information has been related to individual differences in resilience. However, it is unclear whether flexible affective processing is sensitive to mood fluctuations. Furthermore, it remains to be investigated how effects on flexible affective processing interact with the affective valence of information that is presented. To fill this gap, we tested the effects of positive mood and individual differences in self-reported resilience on affective flexibility, using a task switching paradigm (N = 80). The main findings showed that positive mood was related to lower task switching costs, reflecting increased flexibility, in line with previous findings. In line with this effect of positive mood, we showed that greater resilience levels, specifically levels of acceptance of self and life, also facilitated task set switching in the context of affective information. However, the effects of resilience on affective flexibility seem more complex. Resilience tended to relate to more efficient task switching when negative information was preceded by positive information, possibly because the presentation of positive information, as well as positive mood, can facilitate task set switching. Positive mood also influenced costs associated with switching affective valence of the presented information. This latter effect was indicative of a reduced impact of no longer relevant negative information and more impact of no longer relevant positive information. Future research should confirm these effects of individual differences in resilience on affective flexibility, considering the affective valence of the presented information.

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