Recognizing the bank robber and spotting the difference: emotional state and global vs. local attentional set.

Research paper by Antonia Pilar AP Pacheco-Unguetti, Alberto A Acosta, Juan J Lupiáñez

Indexed on: 12 Jul '14Published on: 12 Jul '14Published in: The Spanish journal of psychology


In two experiments (161 participants in total), we investigated how current mood influences processing styles (global vs. local). Participants watched a video of a bank robbery before receiving a positive, negative or neutral induction, and they performed two tasks: a face-recognition task about the bank robber as global processing measure, and a spot-the-difference task using neutral pictures (Experiment-1) or emotional scenes (Experiment-2) as local processing measure. Results showed that positive mood induction favoured a global processing style, enhancing participants' ability to correctly identify a face even when they watched the video before the mood-induction. This shows that, besides influencing encoding processes, mood state can be also related to retrieval processes. On the contrary, negative mood induction enhanced a local processing style, making easier and faster the detection of differences between nearly identical pictures, independently of their valence. This dissociation supports the hypothesis that current mood modulates processing through activation of different cognitive styles.