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Positive EmotionIntegrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides$
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June Gruber and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.001.0001

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On the Downside of Feeling Good

On the Downside of Feeling Good

Evidence for the Motivational, Cognitive and Behavioral Disadvantages of Positive Affect

(p.301) Chapter 17 On the Downside of Feeling Good
Positive Emotion

Joseph P. Forgas

Oxford University Press

The subtle relationship between feeling and thinking, affect and cognition has been the subject of focused attention by philosophers and writers since time immemorial, yet empirical research on this topic was relatively neglected by psychologists until recently. Despite the overwhelming past emphasis on the beneficial effects of positive affect, recent work suggests a much more complex pattern. In many situations, positive affect may hinder, and negative affect may facilitate optimal performance, consistent with evolutionary theories suggesting the adaptive signaling function of various affective states. This chapter reviews psychological theories and research documenting the sometimes maladaptive consequences of positive affect for thinking and behavior. A wide range of empirical studies will be reviewed, demonstrating that in many situations, positive affect can compromise performance in cognitive and social tasks, including tasks such as memory performance, judgments, inferences, the detection of deception, social perception, interpersonal communication, and strategic interactions. These findings will be interpreted in terms of a dual-process theory that predicts that positive affect generally promotes more assimilative, internally focused, and heuristic processing styles. The theoretical relevance of these findings for recent affect-cognition theories will be discussed, and the practical implications of affective influences on social thinking and performance in real-life situations will be considered.

Keywords:   affect, cognition, motivation, interpersonal behavior, affect congruence, communication

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