Dynamic processing of sequential emotional trajectories
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This dissertation had two goals. First, to examine the deactivation patterns of the appetitive and aversive motivational systems and the effects such deactivation had on information processing of subsequent messages. Second, to explore changes in motivational activation and cognitive processing when two emotional messages appear in sequence, especially when they differ in emotional valence. To achieve these goals, two experiments were conducted. In experiment #1, cognitive resources available to encoding were measured, indexed by secondary task reaction times. In experiment #2, dynamic motivated cognition was indexed using real-time psychophysiological data metrics including heart rate, skin conductivity, and facial electromyography. Encoding performance was measured in both experiments using speeded, forced choice visual recognition tasks.Results of these experiments support the propositions made by the proposed dynamic motivational deactivation model, which predicts that appetitive and aversive motivational systems deactivate in different fashions at the offset of preceding emotional content, and such differences are larger when the preceding stimuli is highly arousing. In addition, sequentially coactive messages were found to elicit similar patterns to those that have been seen during simultaneously coactive messages. Among the valence-switching messages, those that started positive and ended negative with a matched arousal level are most likely to increase attention to and memory for subsequent messages, which may be of particular interest to media practitioners. Finally, the limitation of this dissertation, the possible future directions, and the theoretical and practice implications are discussed.