Noticing Change in Our World: the Role of Emotions in Stimulus Discrimination

Derek Rucker, Northwestern University
Aparna Labroo, University of Chicago
How do emotions affect people's ability to detect change? Building on memory research suggesting that change detection requires accurate representation of an initial stimulus, we suggest that emotion-congruent information interferes with this representation. Thus, people are more accurate in detecting change in emotion-incongruent (vs. emotion-congruent) objects. Consequently, happy respondents are less accurate in detecting whether a positive (vs. negative) object has changed, and unhappy respondents are less accurate in detecting whether a negative (vs. positive) object has changed. Interestingly, the effect is not hardwired: imagining a neutral product (e.g., beer) with positive (favorite beer) or negative (disliked beer) associations leads to similar effects. Furthermore, the results are not accounted for by expectancy confirmation or guessing.
[ to cite ]:
Derek Rucker and Aparna Labroo (2008) ,"Noticing Change in Our World: the Role of Emotions in Stimulus Discrimination", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 59-62.