Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion

By Nancy L. Stein; Bennett Leventhal et al. | Go to book overview

4
The Influence of Positive and Negative Affect on Cognitive Organization: Some Implications for Development

Alice M. Isen
Cornell University

The purpose of this chapter is to consider the impact that feelings can have on cognitive structure and organization, and to examine some of the implications of these effects for the development of affect, cognition, and social behavior. In particular, the chapter focuses on two points: first, the asymmetry between happinessand sadness in effects on memory and the implications of this asymmetry for matters of cognitive structure related to affect; and second, the influence of positive affect on creative problem solving, remote associations, and integration of diverse material--what might be called cognitive flexibility--and the implications of this kind of process for cognitive and affective structure.

This volume addresses the integration of psychological and biological approaches to the study of emotional development. I have chosen to discuss the topics just described because they raise interesting questions about the development of affect and the impact of affective experience on subsequent emotional, cognitive, and social development. At the same time, they seem to be somewhat puzzling points, not well explained by current cognitive models, that might benefit from an integration of psychological and biological approaches to understanding emotion.

In conjunction with each topic, then, it is of interest to consider two questions about affect, looking in two directions, about origins and about likely effects: (1) What kinds of processes might underlie and give rise to the effects of feelings that are being discussed; and (2) what do these effects suggest the influence of affective experiences on subsequent affective and cognitive development might be?

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