Local Attentional Bias Increases Approach Motivation: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials and Frequency Analyses
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Over twenty years of research have examined the cognitive consequences of positive affect states, and suggested that positive affect leads to a broadening of cognition. However, this research has primarily examined positive affect that is low in approach motivational intensity (e.g. contentment). In my program of research, I have systematically examined positive affect that varies in approach motivational intensity, and found that positive affect high in approach motivation (e.g. desire) narrow cognition, whereas positive affect low in approach motivation broaden cognition. In this dissertation, I will review past models and present a motivational dimension model of affect that expands understanding of how affective states influence attentional and cognitive breadth. I then review a body of research that has varied the motivational intensity of positive and negative affect and found that affect of low motivational intensity broadens cognitive processes, whereas affect of high motivational intensity narrows cognitive processes. Furthermore, a bi-directional link exists between attentional narrowing and approach motivation, such that a narrowed attentional focus to appetitive stimuli causes greater approach motivation than a broadened attentional focus.
Gable, Philip Arvis (2010). Local Attentional Bias Increases Approach Motivation: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials and Frequency Analyses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from