The effect of emotional states on theory of mind
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SubjectEmotions; Emotions and cognition; Mood (Psychology); Theory of Mind; Appraisal-Tendency Framework; Mood Induction; Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology
The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of emotional state on Theory of Mind, or the capability of someone to make inferences about the thoughts, intentions and emotions of other people. This was done by manipulating participants' emotions via a film mood induction procedure and having participants complete the Faux Pas Task, which assesses Theory of Mind. This task has a general score, as well as sub scores for both Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind. The moods induced were sadness, happiness, anger, and fear. It was hypothesized that participants induced with a sad and fearful mood would have a more accurate General Theory of Mind, as well as a more accurate Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind compared to participants with a Happy or Angry mood. It was hypothesized that cognitive processing styles associated with these emotions would drive this effect. Four One-Way Analyses of Variance were run analyzing the effects that emotional states and cognitive styles have on performance on Theory of Mind Tasks, which yielded no statistically significant effects. Thus, the hypotheses were not supported. A Pearson Product moment correlational analysis revealed that scores on the Cognitive Reflections Task were negatively correlated with scores on the Faux Pas Task, which suggests that participants primed with a heuristic based intuitive cognitive processing style performed better on a measure of General Theory of Mind. The conclusion of this study is that the evidence suggested that emotional states influenced cognitive processing style, while little evidence supported the link between emotional state and theory of mind.
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