Cognitive operations associated with individual differences in affect intensity
Larsen, R. J., Diener, E., & Cropanzano, R. S. (1987). Cognitive operations associated with individual differences in affect intensity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(4), 767.
There are individual differences in the characteristic intensity of affective response to the same emotion-evoking event. The processes whereby individuals come to experience strong or mild emotional responses when exposed to the same affect-provoking stimuli are still unclear. In these studies, we propose that individual differences in affect intensity are associated with certain cognitive operations that involve personalizing, generalizing, and selective abstraction were hypothesized to discriminate subjects high and low in affect intensity. Two studies replicated support for the hypothesis that subjects high on affect-intensity dimension engage in more personalizing/empathic and more generalizing/elaborative cognitive operations than do subjects low on the affect-intensity dimension. The same cognitive operations discriminated groups high and low in affect intensity in response to both positive and negative emotional stimuli. Also, the cognitions that discriminated subjects high and low in affect intensity occurred only in response to affective stimuli; neutral stimuli did not evoke divergent cognitive operations for these groups. Finally, a high degree of consistency was found in the use of emotion-relevant cognitive operations across positive and negative stimuli.
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