3. Moods and judgments

3.2. Mood and cognitive capacity

3.2.1. Resource allocation model and cognitive interference

The model developed by Ellis and Ashbrook (1988), adopts the concept of capacity or resource allocation originally defined by general models of attention (Kahneman, 1973). These models suggest that there is a limited amount of attentional resources that can be allocated for the execution of a cognitive task. Also, the tasks vary in the amount of attentional resources they require: some tasks are very demanding, while others require little or even no attentional resources. Following this perspective, the model of Ellis and Ashbrook (1988), claims that affective states can influence and regulate the amount of attentional resources that can be allocated to a cognitive or motor task. The model is formed on five postulates:

a) affective states regulate the allocation of attentional capacity (negative affect is associated with the reduction of attentional resources – Ellis, 1985 ; Ellis, Thomas & Rodriguez, 1984);

b) allocation of cognitive ability or effort (information encoding requires cognitive effort that can deteriorate other cognitive activities);

c) positive correlation between cognitive effort and memory (performance is improved by the engagement of significant cognitive effort);

d) negative mood and inappropriate strategies (that will diverge resources, which will not be allocated to properly process the demanded task); and

e) negative mood and extra-task processing (negative mood is associated with an increase in activation and with extra-task information processing, which consumes considerable resources – Leight & Ellis, 1991).

More recently, Ellis and Moore (1999) introduced some changes to the previous model. First, the first three propositions, seen as central to the model of 1988, became the consequences of the last two assertions. Moreover, the assumptions regarding the negative states are extended to positive mood, which is supposed to cause the same memory deficits. Mood itself is not responsible for the observed memory deficits; mood’s positive or negative valence has no specific influence on memory. Memory dysfunctions are the result of irrelevant thoughts, distractions and a lack of attention to the task.

Therefore, it is not the affective states that have an impact, but the cognitive consequences of these states (Oaksford, Morris, Grainger, & Williams, 1996; Riskind, 1989). This model of cognitive interference was supported by research with clinical (depressed individuals – Weingartner, Cohen, Murphy, Martello

& Gerdt, 1981; R. M. Cohen, Weingartner, Smallberg, Pickar & Murphy, 1982) and non-clinical populations (induced mood – Ellis et al., 1984; Potts, Camp, & Coyne, 1989). In a negative mood state, the intrusion of irrelevant thoughts seems inevitable (Gunther, Ferraro & Kirchner, 1996; Sutherland et al., 1982), which may lead to significant memory deficits (Hertel, 1998). Despite research in favor of the cognitive interference perspective, other studies casted doubts on the hypothesis of an attentional resources deficit associated with positive or negative mood (Bless et al., 1996; Hesse & Spies, 1996).

3.2.2. Self-focus

Mood effects on self-focus attention have been analyzed by several investigations. In general, findings show that people in a negative mood tend to have more thoughts and feelings related to themselves (see Mor & Winquist, 2002, for a review). These results were found with experimentally manipulated mood (Greenberg & Pyszczynski, 1986; Salovey, 1992; Sedikides, 1992; Wood, Saltzberg, &

Goldsamt, 1990), in correlational studies with a non-clinical populations (Csikszentmihalyi & Figurski, 1982; Larsen & Cowan, 1988; Wood, Saltzberg, Neale, Stone, & Rachmiel, 1990), and also with a clinical (depressed) population (see Ingram, 1990, for a review).

Positive mood effects on self-focused attention evidence is less clear. Salovey (1992) proposed and confirmed that both types of mood – positive and negative – had a similar effect on self-focus, but this was not a congruent finding. For example, other studies suggested that positive moods could reduce self-focus attention (Sedikides, 1992; Sedikides & Green, 2000, Wood et al., 1990). However, recent research has suggested that positive mood might be dependent on context, having thus different effects on self-focus attention. Abele, Silvia, and Zöller-Utz (2005) manipulated participants’ mood and the context: in one condition it was announced that a difficult task would follow, whereas in another condition there was no announcement concerning the task. Then, self-focus attention was measured

with a sentence completion task consisting of a choice of different personal pronouns (e.g., they, we, I).

A frequent choice of first person pronouns (I or we) indicated higher self-focus. The results illustrated that when participants expect a difficult task, positive mood decreased self-focus attention; by contrast, if they are not expecting the task, positive mood lead to increased self-focus. These mood effects on self-focused attention may influence effort-related judgments and will therefore be considered in the Discussion part (section 2.2.2.)

3.2.3. Self-regulation

Carver and Scheier’s (1981) model of self-regulation can account for the asymmetrical effects of negative and positive mood in self-focus attention. This model postulates the existence of a feedback loop that allows the organism to reduce the distance between its current state and a desired state.

Thus, the purpose of affective states is to inform people about the gap between the current state and the desired one, or according to a more recent development of the model (Carver & Scheier, 1990a), to inform about progress towards the desired state: Negative affect emerges when there is a big distance between current and desired state or when progress towards that desired state is too slow, while close proximity to and progress toward the aspired state gives rise to positive affect. This would imply that people in a negative mood are more self-focused in order to highlight problems that need to be solved to attain a goal (desired state). Even though this theory supports implications for self-focused attention, it mainly proposes that moods have a precise origin and function: namely, to inform the individual about the distance between a current and a desired state. However, we can conceive that this informational function does not directly imply an exact cause and that it does not necessarily lead to specific behaviors.

Some authors defend the idea that self-regulation mechanisms – such as stress management, negative mood regulation, or resisting temptations – consume resources (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). This view suggests that when resources are used for self-control, fewer resources will be available for a subsequent self-regulation. According to Muraven and Baumeister (2000), people in a negative mood will have fewer resources, because they exert a greater control that depletes them. Evidence for this assertion comes from studies on stress-induced eating (see Greeno & Wing, 1994, for a review), or on resistance to temptation/delay of reward (Fry, 1975; Mischel, Ebbesen, & Zeiss, 1972). Another study showed that watching a funny movie does not help to suppress certain thoughts’ contents (Muraven, 1998). Thus, self-regulation and self-control seems to consume resources, although not much is known

regarding the variables involved in this process. Wright and Penacerrada’s (2002) work with “fatigue”

can account for an alternative explanation: on self-regulation and more specifically on self-control there is engagement, but there is also fatigue. Accordingly, tired people invest more effort to complete a task than people who are not tired, as long as the effort is seen as justified, in order to compensate a deficit (see also section 2.2. of the Discussion part).

Dans le document Mood and mental effort : informational mood impact on cardiovascular reactivity and the context-dependency of moods (Page 32-35)