Being able to comprehend written text is vital to functioning in society. “Whether it involves perusing a television guide, studying tax forms, or examining a news website, learning about the world requires comprehension of written materials,” said Catherine M. Bohn-Gettler of Wichita State University and David N. Rapp of Northwestern University. “Just as importantly (and perhaps even more so), reading is a crucial element of successful learning in more formal educational settings.” The authors of a new study designed to examine if reading comprehension is affected by an individual’s mood, said, “Mood has also been associated with achievement, such that positive emotions tend to increase learning.”
They wanted to test their theories because they believe it is an area of research that has not received enough attention. “To date, research on text processing in educational and cognitive psychological domains has focused predominantly on cognitive influences on comprehension and, in particular, those influences that might be derived from particular tasks or strategies,” said the team. “However, there is growing interest in documenting the influences of emotional factors on the processes and products of text comprehension, because these factors are less likely to be associated with explicit reading strategies.”
The researchers enlisted 100 undergraduates for the study. They assigned them to three groups, happy, sad or neutral mood. The groups watched clips of movies aimed to induce the three specific moods. They were then instructed to read text and perform specific comprehension and memory tasks relating to the text, including read aloud tasks. The findings revealed that the participants in the neutral mood group engaged in less paraphrasing and exhibited less coherent processing techniques. The participants in the sad and happy mood groups paraphrased more, and were able to recall more details from the text than their neutral counterparts. “The results from this experiment demonstrate that mood may influence the processes that readers rely on during comprehension and can influence post-reading memory,” said the researchers.
Bohn-Gettler, C. M., & Rapp, D. N. (2011, June 20). Depending on My Mood: Mood-Driven Influences on Text Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023458
© 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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