The emotional homunculus: The role of affect in task-switching
Much recent work has investigated participants' ability to switch between simple cognitive tasks. However, little research exists that examines how the emotional nature of a task may affect one's ability to switch tasks. Understanding how emotion affects the task-switching process will help elucidate the role of affect in executive control and, furthermore, may help to understand the nature of emotional disorders characterized by perseverative thoughts or behavior (e. g. Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). In the present investigation, participants alternated predictably between two tasks requiring a perceptual decision about either an emotionally aversive spider-image or a neutral digit. The results clearly demonstrate that switching away from an aversive spider task was more difficult than switching away from an emotionally neutral task. Moreover, this affect-driven disengage deficit was more pronounced for individuals more fearful of spiders.
School:University of Waterloo
School Location:Canada - Ontario
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:psychology task switching emotion
Date of Publication:01/01/2006