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Association learning for emotional harbinger cues: When do previous emotional associations impair and when do they facilitate subsequent learning of new associations?

Sakaki, M., Ycaza-Herrera, A. E. and Mather, M. (2014) Association learning for emotional harbinger cues: When do previous emotional associations impair and when do they facilitate subsequent learning of new associations? Emotion, 14 (1). pp. 115-129. ISSN 1931-1516

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1037/a0034320

Abstract/Summary

Neutral cues that predict emotional events (emotional harbingers) acquire emotional properties and attract attention. Given the importance of emotional harbingers for future survival, it is desirable to flexibly learn new facts about emotional harbingers when needed. However, recent research revealed that it is harder to learn new associations for emotional harbingers than cues that predict non-emotional events (neutral harbingers). In the current study, we addressed whether this impaired association learning for emotional harbingers is altered by one’s awareness of the contingencies between cues and emotional outcomes. Across 3 studies, we found that one’s awareness of the contingencies determines subsequent association learning of emotional harbingers. Emotional harbingers produced worse association learning than neutral harbingers when people were not aware of the contingencies between cues and emotional outcomes, but produced better association learning when people were aware of the contingencies. These results suggest that emotional harbingers do not always suffer from impaired association learning and can show facilitated learning depending on one’s contingency awareness.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:36910
Publisher:American Psychological Association
Publisher Statement:This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.'

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