The Effects of Emotions - Essay Example

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This short study seeks to find out how the positive affect facilitates creative cognitive processes. After shortly introducing the subject it centres on Isen et al's 1987 experiments Duncker's (1945) candle problem. …
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The Effects of Emotions
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Download file to see previous pages Mild induced mood states, commonly known as emotions, can affect cognitive processes like attention (Mischel, Ebbesen, and Zeiss, 1973), memory retrieval (Isen, Shalker, Clark and Carp, 1978), evaluative and judgemental processes (Isen and Shalker, 1982) and decision-making under both certainty (Isen and Means, 1983) and risk (Isen, Means, Patrick and Nowicki, 1982) (Mike Oaksford, 1996). This study looks into how such mild induced moods, particularly positive emotions, affect the cognitive process of decision-making, particularly creative or 'divergent' cognitive processes. It particularly focuses on the work of Isen et al (1987) on this.

The main construct of this study is Isen et al's comparative study of 4 groups subjected to Duncker's (1945) candle problem. In their experiment 2 a group was subjected to a short comedy clip to induce a positive mood state in them. A control group was subjected to a neutral film clip to control for a positive film effect - that is, the possibility of any effects observed for the experimental conditions that were due to the film and not to the induced mood states. A second control group was not subjected to any films so that no induction of an affective state would act as further control for the film effect. A third control group was subjected to a film clip that induced a negative mood state to check that any effect observed for the experimental condition was specific to the positive mood.
The candle problem requires candidates must support a lighted candle on a door using just a box of tacks, some matches and the candle. The correct requires the realisation that the box of tacks can have multiple uses and tacking the box to the door can allow the candidates in a group to stand the candle on the box as it remains tacked to the door.
Isen et al observed that the candidates of the group with positive affect performed better than the other three groups - the negative, neutral and no-films groups - all of which had no significant variance in performance among themselves. The experimenters concluded from this that positive moods facilitated creative problem solving while negative ones did not.
Isen (1987) interpreted the observations of this experiment on the effects of positive affect in terms of two factors. The first of these is the long-term memory factor. The positive affect can act as a retrieval cue for positive material from long-term memory (Laird et al, 1982). Thus, the candidates in a positive mood could recall more possible functions for an object, the box of tacks here, when in that psychological condition.
The second factor, as per Isen, is that the positive affect has effect on the way information is processed in the brain in the working memory rather than the way in which information is retrieved. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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