Implicit happiness and sadness are associated with ease and difficulty: evidence from sequential priming
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Three experiments tested the hypothesis of implicit associations between happiness and the performance ease concept and between sadness and the performance difficulty concept. All three studies applied a sequential priming paradigm: participants categorized emotion words (Experiment 1) or facial expressions (Experiment 2) as positive or negative or as referring to ease or difficulty (Experiment 3). These targets were preceded by briefly flashed ease- or difficulty-related words or neutral non-words (Experiments 1 and 2) or by happy, sad, or neutral facial expressions (Experiment 3) as primes. As predicted, all three experiments revealed increases in reaction times in the sequential priming task from congruent trials (happiness/ease and sadness/difficulty) over neutral trials to incongruent trials (sadness/ease and happiness/difficulty). The findings provide evidence for implicit associative links of happiness with ease and sadness with difficulty, as posited by the implicit-affect-primes-effort model (Gendolla, Int J Psychophysiol 86:123–135, 2012; Soc Pers Psychol Compass 9:606–619, 2015).
This research was supported by research grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 100014-131760, 100014-140251) awarded to Guido H. E. Gendolla.
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