Affect and Cognition [and Discussion]

G. H. Bower, A. Sahgal, D. A. Routh

Abstract

This paper reviews my research on emotional influences on memory and judgement. First, it is found that when people are feeling happy, sad, or angry, they selectively attend to and learn more about stimulus material that is congruent with their feeling. Beyond selective attention, it is hypothesized that this congruity effect on learning arises because congruent material causes a more intense emotional reaction, and, within limits, people better remember events that are associated with more intense reactions. Second, it is found that emotion serves as a selective retrieval cue for material stored in memory in association with that emotion. People remember material best when they can reinstate the emotion they felt when it was learnt. Third, owing to this selective retrieval, emotion influences diverse cognitions and judgements: people's fantasies, their impressions of others or themselves, their forecasts of the future, their predictions about their competencies, and so on.