The role of emotions in complex problem solving

Cognition and Emotion 19 (8):1252-1261 (2005)
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The assumption that positive affect leads to a better performance in simple cognitive tasks has become well established. We address the question whether positive and negative emotions differentially influence performance in complex problem-solving in the same way. Emotions were induced by positive or negative feedback in 74 participants who had to manage a computer-simulated complex problem-solving scenario. Results show that overall scenario performance is not affected, but positive and negative emotions elicit distinguishable problem-solving strategies: Participants with negative emotions are more focused on the seeking and use of information. We discuss methodological requirements for investigating emotion influences in complex and dynamic cognitive tasks.
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