Original Paper

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 508-517

First online:

Motivated message processing: How motivational activation influences resource allocation, encoding, and storage of TV messages

  • Annie LangAffiliated withInstitute for Communication Research, Department of Telecommunications, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University Email author 
  • , Ashley Sanders-JacksonAffiliated withCenter for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California
  • , Zheng WangAffiliated withSchool of Communication, The Ohio State University
  • , Bridget RubenkingAffiliated withNicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida

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This paper investigates differences in overtime processing of television messages with three types of emotional trajectories—those which begin neutral and become negative, begin neutral and become positive and begin neutral and become equally positive and negative. The limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing is used to predict how the type of emotional content influences real-time activation of the appetitive and aversive motivational systems which then alter concurrent and subsequent message processing. Results show that during the first time period, when motivational activation is low, more resources are allocated to coactive and positive compared to negative messages supporting the positivity offset hypothesis. In the middle time period, when activation is moderate, more resources are allocated to negative than to positive messages, supporting the negativity bias hypothesis. Further, the different patterns of motivational activation do result in different patterns of messages processing. During positive messages, encoding increases and storage decreases over time. During negative messages, encoding decreases and storage increases overtime. During coactive messages initial encoding and storage are high though both decrease slightly over time.


Memory Attention Motivation Emotion Media