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Ego involvement moderates the assimilation effect of affective expectations

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Abstract

Based on the affective expectations model and research on mental effort mobilization, two experiments manipulated affective expectations (no expectations versus positive expectations) and ego involvement (low versus high) and assessed participants’ affective reactions to hedonically neutral stimuli. In Experiment 1, evaluations were more positive when participants had positive expectations about neutral photos—but only when ego involvement was low. High ego involvement neutralized this affective expectation assimilation effect. Experiment 2 replicated these findings for experienced mood after reading a hedonically neutral short essay. Furthermore, high ego involvement led to longer response latencies in the affect ratings in Study 1. The findings support the idea that high ego involvement resulted in relatively high mental effort that was necessary to detect discrepancies between affective expectations and stimuli’s real affective potential and therefore moderated the assimilation effect to affective expectations.

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Notes

  1. We presented the following IAPS pictures from the upper range of the hedonically neutral pictures: 1450, 1640, 2500, 2560, 5250, 5390, 5410, 5900, 7284, 7285, 8280, and 8465. The valence scores of these pictures range from 5.59 to 6.38 on a 9-point scale.

  2. We are indebted to Richard M. Ryan for providing this explanation that provides a facility to reconcile our findings with other documented ego involvement effects on performance.

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Acknowledgements

This research was facilitated by a research grant form the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Ge 987/7-1) awarded to the first author. We would like to thank Melina Agassiz and Judith Naef for their help as hired experimenters.

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Correspondence to Guido H. E. Gendolla.

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Gendolla, G.H.E., Brinkmann, K. & Scheder, D. Ego involvement moderates the assimilation effect of affective expectations. Motiv Emot 32, 213–220 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-008-9098-9

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