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Counter-regulating on the internet: Threat elicits preferential processing of positive information.

Greving, Hannah and Sassenberg, Kai and Fetterman, Adam K (2015) 'Counter-regulating on the internet: Threat elicits preferential processing of positive information.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 21 (3). pp. 287-299. ISSN 1076-898X

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The Internet is a central source of information. It is increasingly used for information search in self-relevant domains (e.g., health). Self-relevant topics are also associated with specific emotions and motivational states. For example, individuals may fear serious illness and feel threatened. Thus far, the impact of threat has received little attention in Internet-based research. The current studies investigated how threat influences Internet search. Threat is known to elicit the preferential processing of positive information. The self-directed nature of Internet search should particularly provide opportunities for such processing behavior. We predicted that during Internet search, more positive information would be processed (i.e., allocated more attention to) and more positive knowledge would be acquired under threat than in a control condition. Three experiments supported this prediction: Under threat, attention is directed more to positive web pages (Study 1) and positive links (Study 2), and more positive information is acquired (Studies 1 and 3) than in a control condition. Notably, the effect on knowledge acquisition was mediated by the effect on attention allocation during an actual Internet search (Study 1). Thus, Internet search under threat leads to selective processing of positive information and dampens threatened individuals' negative affect.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 12:17
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2016 12:17

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