Happiness increases distraction by auditory deviant stimuli

A.P. Pacheco-Unguetti, Fabrice Parmentier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015 The British Psychological SocietyRare and unexpected changes (deviants) in an otherwise repeated stream of task-irrelevant auditory distractors (standards) capture attention and impair behavioural performance in an ongoing visual task. Recent evidence indicates that this effect is increased by sadness in a task involving neutral stimuli. We tested the hypothesis that such effect may not be limited to negative emotions but reflect a general depletion of attentional resources by examining whether a positive emotion (happiness) would increase deviance distraction too. Prior to performing an auditory-visual oddball task, happiness or a neutral mood was induced in participants by means of the exposure to music and the recollection of an autobiographical event. Results from the oddball task showed significantly larger deviance distraction following the induction of happiness. Interestingly, the small amount of distraction typically observed on the standard trial following a deviant trial (post-deviance distraction) was not increased by happiness. We speculate that happiness might interfere with the disengagement of attention from the deviant sound back towards the target stimulus (through the depletion of cognitive resources and/or mind wandering) but help subsequent cognitive control to recover from distraction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-433
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Volume107
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

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