The Impact of Affect on Out-Group Judgments Depends on Dominant Information-Processing Styles: Evidence From Incidental and Integral Affect Paradigms

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2016 Apr;42(4):485-97. doi: 10.1177/0146167216634061.


Two studies tested the affect-as-cognitive-feedback model, in which positive and negative affective states are not uniquely associated with particular processing styles, but rather serve as feedback about currently accessible processing styles. The studies extend existing work by investigating (a) both incidental and integral affect, (b) out-group judgments, and (c) downstream consequences. We manipulated processing styles and either incidental (Study 1) or integral (Study 2) affect and measured perceptions of out-group homogeneity. Positive (relative to negative) affect increased out-group homogeneity judgments when global processing was primed, but under local priming, the effect reversed (Studies 1 and 2). A similar interactive effect emerged on attributions, which had downstream consequences for behavioral intentions (Study 2). These results demonstrate that both incidental and integral affect do not directly produce specific processing styles, but rather influence thinking by providing feedback about currently accessible processing styles.

Keywords: affect; affect-as-cognitive-feedback; affect-as-information; out-group homogeneity; social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Cognition*
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Social Perception*