Emotional arousal does not modulate stimulus-response binding and retrieval effects

Cognition and Emotion 36 (8):1509-1521 (2022)
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Abstract

The adaptation-by-binding account and the arousal-biased competition model suggest that emotional arousal increases binding effects for transient links between stimuli and responses. Two highly-powered, pre-registered experiments tested whether transient stimulus-response bindings are stronger for high versus low arousing stimuli. Emotional words were presented in a sequential prime-probe design in which stimulus relation, response relation, and stimulus arousal were orthogonally manipulated. In Experiment 1 (N = 101), words with high and low arousal levels were presented individually in prime and probe displays. In Experiment 2 (N = 170), a high arousing affective word was presented simultaneously with a neutral word during the prime display; in the subsequent probe display, either the arousing or the neutral word repeated or a different high versus low arousal word was shown. Data from both experiments did not demonstrate a modulation of SRBR effects by stimulus arousal and SRBR effects were of equal magnitude for word stimuli of high and low arousal levels. These null results are not in line with binding accounts that hypothesise a modulatory influence of emotional arousal on perception-action binding.

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