Negative Affect Reduces Performance in Implicit Sequence Learning

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Background: It is well documented that positive rather than negative moods encourage integrative processing of conscious information. However, the extent to which implicit or unconscious learning can be influenced by affective states remains unclear. Methodology/Principal Findings: A Serial Reaction Time (SRT) task with sequence structures requiring integration over past trials was adopted to examine the effect of affective states on implicit learning. Music was used to induce and maintain positive and negative affective states. The present study showed that participants in negative rather than positive states learned less of the regularity. Moreover, the knowledge was shown by a Bayesian analysis to be largely unconscious as participants were poor at recognizing the regularity. Conclusions/Significance: The results demonstrated that negative rather than positive affect inhibited implicit learning of complex structures. Our findings help to understand the effects of affective states on unconscious or implicit processing. © 2013 Shang et al.




Shang, J., Fu, Q., Dienes, Z., Shao, C., & Fu, X. (2013). Negative Affect Reduces Performance in Implicit Sequence Learning. PLoS ONE, 8(1).

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