The Effects Of Ambivalence And Emotion Reporting On Attention

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Poster Session

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Ambivalence, the co-occurrence of positive and negative affect, is uncomfortable, arousing, and short-lived. We have previously shown that ambivalence distracts individuals from performing subsequent tasks . Individuals experienced greater interference on a color Stroop task after watching an ambivalent vs. a positive or negative film clip; however, allowing individuals to report their feelings eliminated this impairment (Norris & Henderson, 2013). In the current study we sought to examine the effects of ambivalence and emotion reporting on attention, using the Attention Network Test (ANT; Fan et al., 2002) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants randomly assigned to report their feelings after watching an emotion-inducing film clip showed both better accuracy and longer response times on the ANT than non-reporters. These effects were driven by participants who viewed an ambivalent (vs. a negative or positive) film clip, and were strongest for incongruent (vs. neutral or congruent) ANT trials. N200 amplitudes were smaller for incongruent than for neutral or congruent trials; and were reduced for participants who watched the ambivalent film clip and reported their feelings afterward. Higher mixed feelings correlated with worse accuracy on the ANT and with smaller N200 amplitudes; this effect was driven by participants who viewed the ambivalent film clip. In sum, ambivalence may lead to impaired executive attention, as evidenced by both ANT accuracy and reduced N200 amplitudes, but reporting those mixed emotions may help alleviate these impairments.


ambivalence, attention, N200