The role of current affect, anticipated affect and spontaneous self-affirmation in decisions to receive self-threatening genetic risk information

Cogn Emot. 2015;29(8):1456-65. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2014.985188. Epub 2014 Dec 8.


One reason for not seeking personally threatening information may be negative current and anticipated affective responses. We examined whether current (e.g., worry) and anticipated negative affect predicted intentions to seek sequencing results in the context of an actual genomic sequencing trial (ClinSeq®; n = 545) and whether spontaneous self-affirmation mitigated any (negative) association between affect and intentions. Anticipated affective response negatively predicted intentions to obtain and share results pertaining to both medically actionable and non-actionable disease, whereas current affect was only a marginal predictor. The negative association between anticipated affect and intentions to obtain results pertaining to non-actionable disease was weaker in individuals who were higher in spontaneous self-affirmation. These results have implications for the understanding of current and anticipated affect, self-affirmation and consequential decision-making and contribute to a growing body of evidence on the role of affect in medical decisions.

Keywords: Anticipated affect; Current affect; Defensiveness; Information avoidance; Information seeking; Self-affirmation.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Anticipation, Psychological*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Self Concept*