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      Happiness in action: the impact of positive affect on the time of the conscious intention to act

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          Abstract

          The temporal relationship between our conscious intentions to act and the action itself has been widely investigated. Previous research consistently shows that the motor intention enters awareness a few 100 ms before movement onset. As research in other domains has shown that most behavior is affected by the emotional state people are in, it is remarkable that the role of emotional states on intention awareness has never been investigated. Here we tested the hypothesis that positive and negative affects have opposite effects on the temporal relationship between the conscious intention to act and the action itself. A mood induction procedure that combined guided imagery and music listening was employed to induce positive, negative, or neutral affective states. After each mood induction session, participants were asked to execute voluntary self-paced movements and to report when they formed the intention to act. Exposure to pleasant material, as compared to exposure to unpleasant material, enhanced positive affect and dampened negative affect. Importantly, in the positive affect condition participants reported their intention to act earlier in time with respect to action onset, as compared to when they were in the negative or in the neutral affect conditions. Conversely the reported time of the intention to act when participants experienced negative affect did not differ significantly from the neutral condition. These findings suggest that the temporal relationship between the conscious intention to act and the action itself is malleable to changes in affective states and may indicate that positive affect enhances intentional awareness.

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          The role of positive emotions in positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.

          In this article, the author describes a new theoretical perspective on positive emotions and situates this new perspective within the emerging field of positive psychology. The broaden-and-build theory posits that experiences of positive emotions broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires, which in turn serves to build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources. Preliminary empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory is reviewed, and open empirical questions that remain to be tested are identified. The theory and findings suggest that the capacity to experience positive emotions may be a fundamental human strength central to the study of human flourishing.
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            The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions.

            The broaden-and-build theory describes the form and function of a subset of positive emotions, including joy, interest, contentment and love. A key proposition is that these positive emotions broaden an individual's momentary thought-action repertoire: joy sparks the urge to play, interest sparks the urge to explore, contentment sparks the urge to savour and integrate, and love sparks a recurring cycle of each of these urges within safe, close relationships. The broadened mindsets arising from these positive emotions are contrasted to the narrowed mindsets sparked by many negative emotions (i.e. specific action tendencies, such as attack or flee). A second key proposition concerns the consequences of these broadened mindsets: by broadening an individual's momentary thought-action repertoire--whether through play, exploration or similar activities--positive emotions promote discovery of novel and creative actions, ideas and social bonds, which in turn build that individual's personal resources; ranging from physical and intellectual resources, to social and psychological resources. Importantly, these resources function as reserves that can be drawn on later to improve the odds of successful coping and survival. This chapter reviews the latest empirical evidence supporting the broaden-and-build theory and draws out implications the theory holds for optimizing health and well-being.
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              Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving.

              Four experiments indicated that positive affect, induced by means of seeing a few minutes of a comedy film or by means of receiving a small bag of candy, improved performance on two tasks that are generally regarded as requiring creative ingenuity: Duncker's (1945) candle task and M. T. Mednick, S. A. Mednick, and E. V. Mednick's (1964) Remote Associates Test. One condition in which negative affect was induced and two in which subjects engaged in physical exercise (intended to represent affectless arousal) failed to produce comparable improvements in creative performance. The influence of positive affect on creativity was discussed in terms of a broader theory of the impact of positive affect on cognitive organization.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                01 September 2015
                2015
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University Ghent, Belgium
                [2] 2Department of General Psychology, University of Padua Padua, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Elisa Filevich, University College London, UK

                Reviewed by: Stefan Schmidt, University Medical Center Freiburg, Germany; Michiko Yoshie, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan

                *Correspondence: Davide Rigoni, Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium, davide.rigoni@ 123456ugent.be

                This article was submitted to Consciousness Research, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01307
                4554957
                cf49126a-51a7-43e9-966a-f03d8bf55c93
                Copyright © 2015 Rigoni, Demanet and Sartori.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 63, Pages: 9, Words: 0
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                intention,positive affect,action control,conscious awareness,intentional action,libet task

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