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Title:The impact of focused attention on emotional evaluation: An eye-tracking investigation
Author(s):Bogdan, Paul C.
Advisor(s):Dolcos, Sanda; Dolcos, Florin
Contributor(s):Buetti, Simona
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
emotion control
emotion-cognition interaction
affective perception
Abstract:Emotional well-being depends on the ability to successfully engage a variety of coping strategies to regulate affective responses. Most studies have investigated the effectiveness of emotion regulation (ER) strategies that are deployed relatively later in the timing of processing that leads to full emotional experiences (i.e., Reappraisal and Suppression). However, less is known about strategies engaged in earlier stages of emotion processing, such as those involving attentional deployment. Here, we investigate the effectiveness of self-guided Focused Attention (FA) in reducing the impact of unpleasant pictures on the experienced negative affect. Participants viewed a series of composite images with distinguishable foreground (FG, either negative or neutral) and background (BG, always neutral) areas, and were asked to focus on the FG or BG content of the pictures. Eye-tracking data were recorded while performing the FA task, along with participants’ rating of their experienced emotional response following the presentation of each image. First, proving the effectiveness of self-guided FA in down-regulating negative affect, focusing away from the emotional content of pictures (BG focus) was associated with lower emotional ratings. Second, trial-based eye-tracking data corroborated these results, showing that spending less time gazing within the negative FG predicted reductions in emotional ratings. Third, this reduction was largest among subjects who habitually use Suppression as an emotion regulation strategy. Overall, the present findings expand the evidence regarding the FA’s effectiveness in controlling the impact of emotional stimuli, and inform the development of training interventions emphasizing attentional control to improve emotional well-being.
Issue Date:2020-12-10
Rights Information:A version of this thesis was accepted for publication. Material from: Dolcos, Bogdan, O’Brien, Iordan, Madison, Buetti, Lleras, & Dolcos (2020, in press). The Impact of Focused Attention on Emotional Evaluation: An EyeTracking Investigation. Emotion. 10.1037/emo0000895.
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-03-05
Date Deposited:2020-12

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