“There has been considerable debate about how affect (moods, emotions, feelings) influences the quality of people’s decisions,” said the authors of a new study that found a link between a person’s positive mood and their ability to make decisions more quickly and more consistently than people with negative moods. Christine M. Page of Skidmore College, Bruce E. Pfeiffer of the University of New Hampshire, Derick F. Davis and Paul M. Herr, of Virginia Tech, said, “We join this debate by looking at affect’s influence on a very basic element of decision-making: deciding if an object is liked or disliked.”
Participants of the study were shown images of pleasant and unpleasant things, such as cute puppies or diseased feet. They were then asked to remember particular unpleasant and pleasant events from their past experiences. The participants were then given pictures of common, neutral objects and were asked to apply an evaluative adjective, either negative or positive, to the common object. “Our prior research found that people respond faster to positive adjectives than negative adjectives,” said the authors. “The present work finds that this difference disappeared for people in the positive affect conditions.” They discovered that those who were shown positive images responded more consistently and more quickly than those who viewed negative images. “These results have implications for how we navigate our world. The decision we make about liking or disliking objects around us are fundamental to which things we approach and which things we avoid,” said the authors.
They added that retailers should create positive shopping experiences in order to capitalize on the consumer’s decision making process and should be wary of negative sales staff or offensive marketing campaigns. The researchers added, “The result may also be relevant for understanding consumer responses to new products in which an initial judgment or liking/disliking is critical to the product’s success.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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