University of Hertfordshire

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Working memory and emotion: Detecting the hedonic detector

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-16
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2012


In an attempt to account for the impact of emotion on cognition, Baddeley (2007) proposed the existence of a hedonic detection system. Malfunctioning of this system was assumed to play a crucial role in depression. Exploring this hypothesis requires a simple and rapid way of assessing the neutral point of proposed hedonic detector. We describe two experiments that aim to develop such a method of investigating this system. Both are based on the assumption that the hedonic judgement of simple stimuli will be influenced by the valence of an induced mood. Experiment 1 showed that a negative mood leads to the more negative evaluation of words than the positive mood. Experiment 2 also includes a neutral condition and the evaluation of words, pictures, and faces. In each case the negative mood led to lower hedonic ratings, whereas no difference was found between neutral and positive moods. Implications for further investigating the hypothetical hedonic detector are discussed.

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