Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Implicit happiness and sadness are associated with ease and difficulty: evidence from sequential priming

  • Ruta Lasauskaite
  • Guido H. E. Gendolla
  • Mylène Bolmont
  • Laure Freydefont
Original Article


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).


Target Word Congruency Effect Incongruent Trial Congruent Trial Incongruent Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geneva Motivation Lab, FPSE, Department of PsychologyUniversity of GenevaGeneva 4Switzerland

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