How emotion affects computing a simple task: a psychological study

Jean-François Billot, Charles Tijus, Marcel Bromberg

The affects of predictability of the stimuli, of induced emotions and of preparation for the task on monotone Continuous Task Performance task (CPT) which consist in typing on the keyboard) the letter preceding in alphabetical order (action, eg; L) the one appearing on the screen (stimulus: M). We varied predictability of the letter (predictable, unpredictable and alternative sequences of predictable and unpredictable stimuli), and task preparation (with and without), induced emotion (positive, neutral and negative).

Results show that the more the task was predictable, shortest was response time (RT) and smaller was the number of errors. Preparation increased response times as providing more control while emotions did not affect Rts, but error rates in interaction with predictability: negative emotions increased the amount of errors for unpredictable targets while both positive and negative emotion decreased the amount of errors. Results are discussed in terms of internal or external distribution of attention under automatic or controlled cognitive processes.

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