Publications Available upon Request * indicates graduate student coauthor
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Hackenbracht, J.* & Gasper, K. (2013). Feeling More and Feeling Close: Affect Intensity Influences Judgments of Interpersonal Closeness. Social Cognition, 31, 94-105. This investigation tested the intensity-as-information perspective, which is that people use the intensity of their feelings as a source of information when making judgments about interpersonal closeness. In two experiments, we manipulated the intensity, valence, and perceived relevance of participants' online affect. Participants then reported how intensely they perceived responding to another person's success or loss and how close they considered themselves to be to this person. In two experiments, when affect was experienced as relevant information, participants induced with more intense affect perceived responding more intensely to another person's success or loss than participants induced with less intense affect. The more intensely participants perceived responding, the closer they considered themselves to be to this person. However, when affect was experienced as irrelevant information, intensity did not influence perceived responses nor did it alter judgments of closeness.
Gasper, K. & Zawadzki, M. J.* (2012). Want Information? How Mood and Performance Perceptions Alter the Perceived Value of Information and Influence Information-Seeking Behaviors. Motivation and Emotion, 34, DOI: 10.1007/s11031-012-9303-7.Currently, it is not well understood when positive and negative moods would encourage and discourage the process of identifying and seeking out valuable information. Building upon the mood-as-a-resource hypothesis and the mood-behavior-model, this project reconciles mixed findings by investigating and finding support for the hypothesis that positive moods encourage seeking instrumental information when performance is perceived to be weak; whereas negative moods encourage it when performance is perceived to be strong. These effects are due to mood influencing the perceived value (i.e. instrumentality) of information and cannot be explained by arguing that mood altered the affective costs/benefits associated with the information. Overall, these results indicate that positive moods may help individuals acquire information to resolve an existing problem, whereas negative moods may help individuals acquire information when there is no apparent problem.
Bramesfeld, K. D.*, & Gasper, K. (2010). Sad-and-Social is Not Smart: The Moderating Effects of Social Anticipation on Mood and Information Processing. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 146-151. We examined if anticipating working collectively, rather than individually, moderates the effects of mood on information processing through (a) distraction, (b) loafing, and/or (c) task engagement. When participants anticipated working collectively, rather than individually, those in sad moods became distracted by the social elements of the task, resulting in a reduced information focus. In contrast, those in happy moods became engaged in the collective task, increasing their intended effort, raising their information focus, and improving their performance on the task. Social loafing effects did not occur. Mediation analyses revealed that these effects were due to changes in information focus, not social focus or intended effort.
Gasper, K., & Lozinski, R.H. (formerly Hassel, R.)*, Smith LeBeau, L.* (2009). If You Plan, Then You Can: How Reflection Helps Defensive Pessimists Pursue their Goals. Motivation and Emotion, 32, 203-216. This research examines how the two propensities that underlie defensive pessimism (pessimism and reflection) operate independently to influence the defensive pessimistic process. It investigates the hypothesis that the propensity to reflect, or plan, counteracts the detrimental effects of pessimism by encouraging not only planning, but also the pursuit of those plans. Consistent with these predictions, two studies revealed that the propensity to reflect helped defensive pessimists pursue their plans by (a) increasing goal importance, (b) promoting effort, (c) raising initial expectations, and (d) buffering the anticipated sting of failure. Pessimism hindered performance by increasing anxiety and lowering expectations. Thus, the propensity to reflect counteracts pessimism by not only promoting planning, but also processes that help the pursuit of those plans.
Bramesfeld, K. D.*, & Gasper, K. (2008). Happily Putting the Pieces Together: A Test of Two Explanations for the Effects of Mood on Group-Level Information Processing. British Journal of Social Psychology, 285-309. Research on mood and information processing reveals two explanations for how moods might influence decision-making in a group. Moods may alter group decision making because happy moods are more likely than sad moods to (a) increase people's reliance on accessible knowledge or (b) broaden people's focus so they can build on their knowledge. Consistent with the hypothesis that happy moods broaden-and-build on people's knowledge, across two experiments, happy moods promoted group performance more than sad moods because happy moods helped group members move beyond their initial preferences and focus broadly on the full range of information that each group member could provide. Experiment 2 built on these findings by demonstrating that the effects of mood on group performance were particularly strong when the critical information was uniquely, rather than commonly, distributed to group members. These experiments clarify the role of mood in group decision making and suggest that a differential focus on unique/critical information relative to common/non-critical information may be a key mechanism in understanding the effects of mood on group decision making.
Gasper, K., & Bramesfeld, K. D.* (2006). Should I Follow My Feelings? How individual differences in following feelings predict affective experience, affective well-being, and affective responsiveness. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 986-1014. Individuals high in the propensity to follow their feelings notice their feelings and use the information provided by their feelings. We investigate the hypothesis that following feelings is a multidimensional, rather than a unidimensional, construct. We reasoned that people follow their positive feelings because these feelings signal the presence of rewards that should be approached and follow their negative feelings because these feelings signal the presence of threats that should be avoided. Because approach and avoidance stem from independent motivational systems, we hypothesized and found that following positive feelings and following negative feelings are separable dimensions. In part 1, we developed a measure, called the Following Affective States Test (FAST), to assess these dimensions and provided psychometric data supporting its adequacy. In part 2, we continued to validate the scale and found that this new conceptualization clarifies the debate concerning whether following feelings is psychologically beneficial. In part 3, we tested the utility of the FAST by demonstrating that it predicts the degree to which individuals notice, react to, and use positive and negative affective information.
Gasper, K. (2004). Do you see what I see? Affect and visual information processing. Cognition and Emotion, 18, 405-421. Individuals in sad moods process information in a less global and more local manner than do those in happier moods. This experiment investigates whether processing speed is associated with these mood effects, whether task ambiguity moderates these mood effects, and whether making feelings appear irrelevant to the task can eliminate these mood effects. Participants in happy, sad, and neutral moods were lead to experience their feelings as being either relevant or irrelevant to a global/local processing task. As predicted, sad moods decreased global processing relative to happier moods when feelings seemed relevant to the task and when the criteria for responding were ambiguous, but not when feelings seemed irrelevant or when the criteria were unambiguous. Consistent with the idea that mood guides processing, increases in affect intensity were associated with faster reaction times. Overall, the results suggest that mood and processing effects share some core similarities with mood and judgement effects.
Gasper, K. (2004). Permission to seek freely? The effect of happy and sad moods on generating old and new ideas. The Creativity Research Journal, 16, 215 – 229. Three experiments investigated why and when sad moods might inhibit generative thought relative to happier moods. Specifically, sad moods might inhibit generative thought compared to happier moods, because they result in individuals' (a) being less likely to use accessible, old ideas; (b) being less likely to use novel ideas; or (c) having less material available in memory. These three possibilities were investigated by having participants in happy or sad moods completed a task that familiarized them with a set of solutions to an upcoming generative task. In contrast to the hypothesis that participants in sad moods were less likely to use accessible ideas than those in happy moods, mood did not influence the use of old solutions on the generative task. Instead, mood affected how many new responses participants generated, with those in sad moods generating fewer new responses than did those in happy moods. This effect of mood was eliminated when participants were told that all responses were acceptable. Because these instructions affect how individuals use information from memory but could not affect what was in memory, these results suggest that mood alters the use of novel information rather than altering the use of accessible responses or the type of material in memory.
Gasper, K., & Clore, G. L. (2000). Do you have to pay attention to your feelings in order to be influenced by them? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 698 - 711. Two experiments investigated how individual differences in attention to emotion influence the role of affect in judgments of risk. In Experiment 1, mood influenced the judgments of individuals high, but not low, in attention to emotion. When an attribution manipulation made a cause of their feelings salient, individuals high in emotional attention no longer perceived their feelings as relevant and were not influenced by them; whereas those low in emotional attention now paid attention to them and were influenced by them. This manipulation had these effects when it was presented prior to, but not in the middle of, a series of judgments. In Experiment 2, differences in response to the attribution manipulation disappeared when participants' perceptions of the relevance of their feelings were governed by instructions to use either feelings or facts as a basis for judgment. The results suggest that feelings influence judgment when they seem relevant.
Gasper, K., & Clore, G. L. (1998). The persistent use of negative affect by anxious individuals to estimate risk. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1350-1363. Three experiments investigated how trait anxiety would influence individuals' assumptions about the relevance of their experiences of state anxiety for judgments of risk. Experiment 1 found that attributions of state anxiety to a judgment-irrelevant source reduced the risk estimates of low, but not of high, trait-anxious individuals. The results of Experiment 2 suggest that attribution manipulations reduce the influence of state affect on judgment only when the state affect is inconsistent with participants' trait affect. Experiment 3 revealed that these effects can be controlled by explicitly manipulating participants' assumptions about the relevance of their feelings. Regardless of the level of trait anxiety, attributions were effective at reducing mood effects when facts, but not feelings, were assumed to be the relevant basis for judgment. Overall, the results suggest that trait-consistent affect is more readily assumed to be informative and hence is more likely to be relied on than trait-inconsistent affect.