The dispositional inability to self‐regulate one's own emotions intuitively is described as state orientation and has been associated with numerous psychological impairments. The necessity to search for buffering effects against negative outcomes of state orientation is evident. Research suggests that state‐oriented individuals can benefit from feeling close to others. Yet, there are individual differences in the extent to which supportive relationships are valued. The objective of the present article was to examine whether high importance of relatedness increases the utilization of its situational activation among state‐oriented individuals.
In two studies, we examined whether situational activation of relatedness (by priming for similarities with a close other) is particularly advantageous for state‐oriented individuals who attach high importance to relatedness (i.e., benevolence values). The sample consisted of 170 psychology undergraduates in Study 1 and 177 in Study 2.
In both studies, state‐oriented participants high in benevolence had reduced negative mood after thinking about similarities (vs. differences). State‐oriented participants low in benevolence did not benefit from priming for similarities. In Study 2, physical presence of a close other did not boost priming effects for state‐oriented participants but stimulated action‐oriented participants to attune their self‐regulatory efforts to the context.
The results show that state‐oriented individuals who value benevolence do benefit from a situational activation of relatedness.
Behavior based assessment: Going beyond self-report in the personality, affective, motivation and social domains. Measures of affect
Kaufmann, M. & Baumann, N.
The very first reactions toward stimuli are almost always accompanied by some kind of affect. There is no single definition of affect. It is rather a label for the superordinate category of moods, feelings, and emotions. Basically, the term affect refers to a positive and negative evaluative response tendency, which can vary from time to time (i.e., mood state), from stimulus to stimulus (i.e., emotion), as well as from person to person (i.e., sensitivity to positive/negative affects), and, therefore, can be measured both as a state and as a trait (e.g. Watson & Clark, 1992; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). Seeing the world through blue- or rose-colored glasses is a popular saying; however, research shows that his is more than just a metaphor. Affect can have an enormous influence on cognition and behaviour (for review, see Schwaz & Clore, 2007). How affect can be measured is, therefore, of vital interest in many fields of psychological investigation and intervention.
Journal of Personality
Personality interacts with implicit affect to predict performance in analytic versus holistic processing
Both theoretical approaches and empirical evidence suggest that negative affect fosters analytic processing, whereas positive affect fosters holistic processing, but these effects are inconsistent. We aim to show that (a) differences in affect regulation abilities (“action orientation”) and (b) implicit more so than self‐reported affect assessment need to be considered to advance our understanding of these processes. Forty participants were asked to verify whether a word was correctly or incorrectly spelled to measure analytic processing, as well as to intuitively assess whether sets of three words were coherent (remote associates task) to measure holistic processing. As expected, implicit but not explicit negative affect interacted with low action orientation (“state orientation”) to predict higher d' performance in word spelling, whereas implicit but not explicit positive affect interacted with high action orientation to predict higher d' performance in coherence judgments for word triads. Results are interpreted according to personality systems interaction theory. These findings suggest that affect and affect changes should be measured explicitly and implicitly to investigate affect‐cognition interactions. Moreover, they suggest that good affect regulators benefit from positive affect for holistic processing, whereas bad affect regulators benefit from negative affect for analytical processing.
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
When death is not a problem: Regulating implicit negative affect under mortality salience
Terror management theory assumes that death arouses existential anxiety in humans which is suppressed in focal attention. Whereas most studies provide indirect evidence for negative affect under mortality salience by showing cultural worldview defenses and self-esteem strivings, there is only little direct evidence for implicit negative affect under mortality salience. In the present study, we assume that this implicit affective reaction towards death depends on people's ability to self-regulate negative affect as assessed by the personality dimension of action versus state orientation. Consistent with our expectations, action-oriented participants judged artificial words to express less negative affect under mortality salience compared to control conditions whereas state-oriented participants showed the reversed pattern.
Journal of Happiness Studies
Fluctuation of flow and affect in everyday life: A second look at the paradox of work
Although several studies have already addressed the relationship between bullying and health effects, little is known about the meaning of self-regulative mechanisms for the health of bullying victims.Objective: Do low action-oriented victims of bullying differ from high action-oriented victims of bullying in the intensity of their health symptoms? Method: Thirty five inpatients from a psychosomatic rehabilitation center who were victims of bullying participated in our study. Variables were assessed using standardized diagnostic procedures (Bullying Questionnaire, ACS, SCL-90-R). Results: For patients with low self-regulatory ability (i.e., state orientation) stronger bullying was associated with higher psychosomatic symptoms. In contrast, patients with high self-regulatory ability (i.e., action orientation) had relatively low psychosomatic symptoms, irrespective of the multiplicity of specific bullying behaviors. Conclusion: The ability to self-regulate emotions seems to buffer adverse health effects associated with a severe social stressor like bullying.
Oxytocin buffers cortisol responses to stress in individuals with impaired emotion regulation abilities
Oxytocin facilitates stress regulation but little is known about individual differences in this effect. The present study investigates whether the effect of intranasal oxytocin on stress-contingent cortisol release differs between individuals with high vs. low emotional regulation abilities (ERA). In a double-blind study thirty-six healthy male students with either high or low ERA were randomly assigned to receive intranasally 24 IU oxytocin or placebo. Cortisol was measured at several times before and after a social stressor (public speaking). Individuals with impaired ERA showed a reduced cortisol response to stress after oxytocin but an increased cortisol response after placebo application. The results suggest that healthy individuals with low ERA benefit from intranasal oxytocin application. Neurobiological mechanisms potentially underlying the link between oxytocin, cortisol and ERA are discussed against the background of a neuroendocrinology perspective on personality.
Could Positive Affect Help Engineer Robot Control Systems?
Quirin, M., Hertzberg, J., Kuhl, J., & Stephan, A.
Emotions have long been seen as counteracting rational thought, but over the last decades, they have been viewed as adaptive processes to optimize human (but also animal) behaviour. In particular, positive affect appears to be a functional aspect of emotions closely related to that. We argue that positive affect as understood in Kuhl’s PSI model of the human cognitive architecture appears to have an interpretation in state-of-the-art hybrid robot control architectures, which might help tackle some open questions in the field.
Cognition & Emotion
Recovering from negative events by boosting implicit positive affect
Upregulation of implicit positive affect (PA) can act as a mechanism to deal with negative affect. Two studies tracked temporal changes in positive and negative affect (NA) assessed by self-report and the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT; Quirin, Kazen, & Kuhl, 2009). Study 1 observed the predicted increases in implicit PA after exposure to a threat-related film clip, which correlated positively with the speed of recognising a happy face among an angry crowd. Study 2 replicated increases in implicit PA after exposition to the same film clip, and showed that such increases were enhanced by priming self-referential stimuli. The findings are discussed against the background of personality systems interaction (PSI) theory (Kuhl, 2000, 2001), which emphasises the role of the implicit self in affect regulation.
Cognition and Emotion
Seeing and Mastering Difficulty: The role of affective change in achievement flow
Achievement flow involves total absorption in an activity, high concentration without effort and merging of thought and action. The authors propose that achievement flow is facilitated by dynamic alternatives between low positive affect (“seeing difficulty”) and high positive affect (“mastering difficulty”). Consistent with this hypothesis, three studies showed that traits associated with reduced positive affect (avoidant adult attachment, schizoid-like personality style, introversion) and traits supportive of restoring positive affect (mastery orientation) predicted achievement flow, as assessed with a new operant motive test (OMT). Achievement flow motives were further found to be associated with flow experiences in achievement tasks (Study 1), intrinsic motivation in an academic context (Study 2), and volitional facilitation as assessed by removal of Stroop interference after experimentally induced difficulty and positive affect (Study 3). These findings offer converging evidence that flow experiences arise from dynamic changes in positive affect.
Journal of Personality
Implicit but not explicit affectivity predicts reactive and circadian and reactive cortisol secretion: Using the implicit positive and negative affect test
Self-report measures assess mental processes or representations that are consciously accessible. In contrast, implicit measures assess automatic processes that often operate outside awareness. Whereas self-report measures have often failed to show expected relationships with endocrine stress responses, little effort has been made to relate implicit measures to endocrine processes. The present work examines whether implicit affectivity as assessed by the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT) predicts cortisol regulation. In Study 1, implicit low positive affectivity, but not negative affectivity, significantly predicted circadian cortisol release. In Study 2, implicit negative affectivity, but not positive affectivity, significantly predicted the cortisol response to acute stress. By contrast, cortisol regulation was not predicted by self-reported affectivity. The findings support the use of implicit affectivity measures in studying individual differences in endocrine stress responses and point to a differential role of positive and negative affectivity in baseline versus stress-contingent cortisol release, respectively.
Mind and Society
Giving or Taking: The Role of Dispositional Power Motivation and Positive Affect in Profit Maximization
Socio-economic decisions are commonly explained by rational cost versus benefit considerations, whereas person variables have not much been considered. The present study aimed at investigating the degree to which dispositional power motivation and affective states predict socio-economic decisions. The power motive was assessed both indirectly and directly using a TAT-like picture test and a power motive self-report, respectively. After 9 months, 62 students completed an affect rating and performed on a money allocation task (social values questionnaire). We hypothesized and confirmed that dispositional power should be associated with a tendency to maximize one’s profit but to care less about another party’s profit. Additionally, positive affect showed effects in the same direction. The results are discussed with respect to a motivational approach explaining socio-economic behaviour.
The Handbook of Motivation and Cognition across Cultures
Affect-regulation, self-development and parenting: A functional-design approach to cross-cultural differences
Within any culture of the world people differ in the preferred degree of closeness and relatedness to others. Emotion is perhaps the most striking feature in which the constructs of independence and interdependence differ. This chapter improves our understanding of the role of emotion across cultures by taking a closer look at the cognitive, emotional, and developmental differences observed in cross-cultural research on independent and interdependent orientations; providing a theoretical explanation for the observed pattern of cognitive, emotional, and developmental differences between cultures that lean more toward individualistic or interrelated orientations. From a developmental point of view, the two cultural concepts of independence and interdependence are conceived of as idealized developmental pathways toward desirable endpoints in specific cultural environments. The theory of personality systems interactions (PSI) provides an understanding of patterns of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral characteristics that can be observed among people with or without a shared cultural environment. The new distinctions proposed are subtle but revealing, especially with regard to the distinction between integrative and orientations. The chapter also elaborates the role affect regulation plays in modulating the interaction between diverging cognitive processing styles and derives an elaborated model extending the framework of independence and interdependence to overcome some conceptual difficulties involved in this contrast.
Based on the framework of Personality Systems Interactions theory, this article addresses the functional mechanisms by which positive affect influences motivational and self-regulatory determinants of health-relevant behavior on an elementary level of processing. Research encompassing experimental procedures such as the Stroop task will be presented which suggest that positive affect is necessary not only to facilitate self-regulation of negative emotions but also to facilitate self-motivation, i.e., the enactment of difficult intentions that entail the risk of procrastination. We also highlight the role of state and trait accessibility of self-referential information (”self-access”) in generating such positive affect. The relevance of the findings for health maintenance is addressed.
Kuhl, J., Baumann, N., & Kazén, M.
What goals make good grades –and why? Motivation, intelligence, and teachers’ assessment of giftedness
Kuhl, J., Baumann, N., & Kazén, M.
In two school settings differing in cultural background (northern vs. southern Germany) and age level (7th vs. 11th grade) the impact on performance (GPA) of four motivational orientations (i.e., orientations toward competition, diagnosticity, high-task difficulty, and self-integration) and of a general intelligence factor (Raven’s SPM) is evaluated. Results show a reliable main effect for self-integration. The generalizability of this main effect is explained on the basis of the theory of personality systems interactions (PSI theory) that specifies the interaction between affect regulation on personality systems, especially the self, whose potential to translate motivation into performance can be attributed to the fact that it integrates both cognitive and motivational competencies. Additional results revealed the role of diligent and independent behavior at work as mediators of the facilitating effects and of self-motivation as a precursor of the integrated orientation. Teachers’ assessment of giftedness is significantly affected by the integrated orientation, but not by the remaining three orientations examined in this research.
Journal of Research in Personality
Affect sensitivity and affect regulation in dealing with positive and negative affect
Interactions between two types of affect sensitivity and two types of affect regulation were tested: low sensitivity to positive affect and high sensitivity to negative affect were expected to become maladaptive when self-motivation and self-relaxation are low, respectively. Consistent with expectations, specific Sensitivity × Regulation interactions emerged: low sensitivity to positive affect (i.e., independent, schizoid-like personality) was only associated with reduced emotional well-being when self-motivation was low. High sensitivity to negative affect (i.e., self-critical, avoidant-like personality) was only associated with psychosomatic symptoms when self-relaxation was low. In a subsample, the same results were obtained longitudinally. Findings support the distinction between affect sensitivity and affect regulation. Furthermore, affect regulation can be differentiated into self-motivation and self-relaxation.
Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie
Zeitschrift für Gesundheitspsychologie. Problemessen vs. Spaßessen: Interaktive Wirkungen von Diätintentionen und Selbstaktivierung auf das Essverhalten. [Problem eating versus eating for enjoyment: Interactive effects of dietary intention and self-activation on dietary behavior]
The influence of induced negative affect and subsequent affect regulation on eating behavior is investigated in an experiment with 70 participants. After an imagery induction of negative affect, participants were assigned either to a positive or a negative self-activation group. Participants’ diet intention was measured with a “new year’s resolution method.” Results showed interactions between self-activation condition and diet intention: (a) Participants in the negative self-activation and low-diet intention group consumed more chocolate than those in comparable groups. (b) Participants in the positive self-activation and high-diet intention group ate more cookies than those in comparable groups. These results are incompatible with the hypothesis of Tice, Bratslavsky, and Baumeister (2001), which presumes a simple relationship between negative affect and subsequent breakdown of the impulse control in eating behavior. There were positive correlations between the amount of chocolate eaten and personality dimensions related to depression. Implications of the above results to health and dieting are discussed.
Motivationspsychologie und ihre Anwendung
Wie gesund sind Ziele? Intrinsische Motivation, Affektregulation und das Selbst [How healthy are goals? Intrinsic motivation, affect regulation and self]
Kuhl, J., & Koole, S.
The influence of goals on psychological health is sometimes positive and at other times negative. Why is this so? Drawing from personality systems interactions theory (Kuhl, 2000), the authors suggest that the answer lies in the degree to which goals are integrated in the person's extended self. The more goals are integrated into the self, the more likely it is that the goal will have beneficial effects on the person's health and well-being.
Motivation and Emotion
Positive affect and flexibility: Overcoming the precedence of global over local processing of visual information
Previous findings on the relationship between positive mood and global processing are often based on visual matching tasks that involve a choice between global and local strategies. Preferences for global processing in positive mood, however, do not imply a reduced ability to process locally. The present experiment tested the assumption that positive affect increases flexibility in cognitive processing as indicated by the ability to overcome global precedence, and to respond rapidly to non-dominant (local) features when the task necessitates it. Consistent with expectations, participants responded significantly faster to local targets after positive compared to neutral and negative prime words. The typical precedence of global over local processing observed after neutral and negative prime words was reversed after positive prime words. Findings support the assumption that positive affect increases cognitive flexibility. Furthermore, findings suggest that mood-related preferences in global versus local processing cannot be generalized to processing ability.
Entfremdung als Krankheitsursache: Selbstregulation von Affekten und integrative Kompetenz [Alienation as a determinant of illness: Self-regulation of affect and integrative competence].
Alienation as a potential cause of psychological disorders has been neglected in experimental research. The concept of alienation has been restricted to phenomenological approaches to personality. Even modern empirical attempts to investigate alienation-related phenomena are not based on functional accounts of underlying processes (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 2000). It is argued that alienation can be (1) operationalized to analyze its antecedents and consequences, (2) decomposed into two separable forms of alienation (manifest and latent alienation), (3) and related to functional mechanisms in the context of a neurobiologically informed theory of personality systems interactions (PSI theory). Results from experiments studying antecedents and consequences of alienation are described.
We investigated effects of emotional states on the ability to make intuitive judgments about the semantic coherence of word triads. Participants were presented word triads, consisting of three clue words that either were weakly associated with a common fourth concept (coherent triads) or had no common associate (incoherent triads). In Experiment 1, participants in a neutral mood discriminated coherent and incoherent triads reliably better than chance level even if they did not consciously retrieve the solution word. In Experiment 2, the induction of a positive mood reliably improved intuitive coherence judgments, whereas participants in a negative mood performed at chance level. We conclude that positive mood potentiates spread of activation to weak or remote associates in memory, thereby improving intuitive coherence judgments. By contrast, negative mood appears to restrict spread of activation to close associates and dominant word meanings, thus impairing intuitive coherence judgments.
An Affiliation of TUFTS UNIVERSITY, School of Public Health and Community Medicine