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The Agile Mind$
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Wilma Koutstaal

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195367188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367188.001.0001

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Emotion, Self, Personality

Emotion, Self, Personality

Thought Personified

(p.238) 6 Emotion, Self, Personality
The Agile Mind

Wilma Koutstaal

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a treatment of some of the most important ways in which aspects of emotion, self, and personality intersect with—both facilitating and impeding—agile thinking. It begins with a consideration of positive emotions, including the fundamental question of what the functional role of positive emotions is. This leads into an outline of the “broaden and build” theory of positive emotional experiences, according to which the modification and extension of our understanding and skills is most likely to occur when we are in mildly positive emotional states such as interest or contentment. Subsequent sections examine both the evidence for, and against, the effects of positive mood on flexible thinking. The broader role of the self and personality in mental agility is then explored through, first, an examination of the effects of an apparently modest but quite potent social-motivational and cognitive intervention known as “self affirmation” and, second, a consideration of the role of the personality characteristic of “openness to experience” in enabling agile thinking and adaptive learning.

Keywords:   positive emotions, agile thinking, positive mood, flexible thinking, mental agility, self affirmation, openness to experience, adaptive learning

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