8 research outputs found

    Spring Break or Heart Break? Extending Valence Bias to Emotional Words

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    Ambiguous stimuli are useful for assessing emotional bias. For example, surprised faces could convey a positive or negative meaning, and the degree to which an individual interprets these expressions as positive or negative represents their “valence bias.” Currently, the most well- wellvalidated ambiguous stimuli for assessing valence bias include nonverbal signals (faces and scenes), overlooking an inherent ambiguity in verbal signals. This study identified 32 words with dual-valence ambiguity (i.e., relatively high intersubject variability in valence ratings and relatively slow response times) and length-matched clearly valenced words (16 positive, 16 negative). Preregistered analyses demonstrated that the words-based valence bias correlated with the bias for faces, rs(213) = .27, p \u3c .001, and scenes, rs(204) = .46, p \u3c .001. That is, the same people who interpret ambiguous faces/scenes as positive also interpret ambiguous words as positive. These findings provide a novel tool for measuring valence bias and greater generalizability, resulting in a more robust measure of this bias

    Reappraisal—but not Suppression—Tendencies Determine Negativity Bias After Laboratory and Real‑World Stress Exposure

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    Higher reactivity to stress exposure is associated with an increased tendency to appraise ambiguous stimuli as negative. However, it remains unknown whether tendencies to use emotion regulation strategies—such as cognitive reappraisal, which involves altering the meaning or relevance of affective stimuli—can shape individual differences regarding how stress affects perceptions of ambiguity. Here, we examined whether increased reappraisal use is one factor that can determine whether stress exposure induces increased negativity bias. In Study 1, healthy participants (n = 43) rated the valence of emotionally ambiguous (surprised) faces before and after an acute stress or control manipulation and reported reappraisal habits. Increased negativity ratings were milder for stressed individuals that reported more habitual reappraisal use. In Study 2 (n = 97), we extended this investigation to real-world perceived stress before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that reappraisal tendency moderates the relationship between perceived stress and increased negativity bias. Collectively, these findings suggest that the propensity to reappraise determines negativity bias when evaluating ambiguity under stress

    Face Coverings Differentially Alter Valence Judgments of Emotional Expressions

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    Face masks that prevent disease transmission obscure facial expressions, impairing nonverbal communication. We assessed the impact of lower (masks) and upper (sunglasses) face coverings on emotional valence judgments of clearly valenced (fearful, happy) and ambiguously valenced (surprised) expressions, the latter of which have both positive and negative meanings. Masks, but not sunglasses, impaired judgments of clearly valenced expressions compared to faces without coverings. Drift diffusion models revealed that lower, but not upper, face coverings slowed evidence accumulation and affected differences in non-judgment processes (i.e., stimulus encoding, response execution time) for all expressions. Our results confirm mask-interference effects in nonverbal communication. The findings have implications for nonverbal and intergroup communication, and we propose guidance for implementing strategies to overcome mask-related interference

    One step at a time: Physical activity is linked to positive interpretations of ambiguity.

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    BACKGROUND:Extensive research has established a clear positive relationship between physical activity (PA), even in small amounts, and psychological well-being, including benefits for emotional and mental health (e.g., decreased depression). However, little research has examined the relationship between PA and decision-making within emotionally ambiguous contexts. The purpose of the present cross-sectional study was to examine the relationship between reported amount and intensity of PA and interpretations of emotional ambiguity. METHODS:Adults (n = 611) recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk were assessed on their interpretations of ambiguous and clear (unambiguous) emotional stimuli and reported habitual PA and exercise. RESULTS:More positive ratings of ambiguity were associated with greater amount of vigorous activity (p = .002), but not with moderate activity (p = .826) or walking (p = .673). Subsequent analyses demonstrated that this relationship between vigorous PA and positive interpretations of ambiguity was most pronounced when comparing individuals who reported any amount of vigorous PA to those who reported no vigorous activity at all. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that higher amounts of vigorous, but not moderate, PA are associated with more positive interpretations of ambiguity, and that even small amounts of PA seem to be sufficient to promote this more positive valence bias when compared to individuals conducting no vigorous PA at all. Future work should examine the longitudinal effects of PA among individuals participating in structured activity programs
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