Overgeneralization is one of core symptoms in anxiety disorders. Previous studies of fear generalization just focused on the factors that facilitate generalization. For example, plenty of studies from this field showed that negative emotions can promote the generalization of fear. However, few studies explored how to prevent generalization, and the role of positive emotions in preventing generalization of fear is unknown. In current study, we fill this gap by behaviorally assessing the role of positive emotions in fear-generalization. Fifty healthy participants underwent fear conditioning and generalization procedure. Skin-conductance response (SCR) and on-line expectancy were served as the measurement of fear responses. After fear acquisition stage, all participants were randomly divided into experimental group or control group that accepted "Best Possible Self" emotional manipulation or nothing. The level of positive emotions were measured by PANAS before and after the manipulation stage. Furthermore, participants were instructed to rate the level of subjective fear and emotion valence of conditioned stimuli (CS) at the end of each stage. The results showed that experimental group displayed less fear generalization than control group, as reflected by SCR, on-line expectancy and self-report. Noteworthily, we observed the separation of implicit measure (skin conductance response) and explicit measure (on-line expectancy and self-report) in this study. This separation supports the dual process theory, suggesting that positive emotion manipulation inhibit fear generalization through different pathways (excitatory pathway and inhibitory pathway) and different mechanisms. Our findings demonstrate that positive emotion manipulation can prevent fear generalization effectively. Given the basis of fear conditioning and generalization, our results may have clinical implications for future treatments and interventions in anxiety disorder.
Previous research suggested that emotions have an effect on prosocial decision making depending on the dimensions of emotional valence, little research has verified the role of specific emotions of the same valence. Drawing on the Appraisal-Tendency Framework (ATF), the present set of studies aimed to explore the carryover effect of two incidentally negative emotions, i.e. anger and sadness, on prosocial decision making and the role of the interpersonal attribution of responsibility in this effect. We conducted two studies, where emotions were induced via the Autobiographical Emotional Memory Task (AEMT). Study 1 investigated the effects of anger and sadness on prosocial decision making with a between-subjects design. Participants were randomly assigned to angry, sad, or neutral conditions and were asked to indicate how much time they were willing to spend helping others. Study 2 explored whether the effects of anger and sadness on prosocial decision making depend on interpersonal attribution of responsibility. This study employed a 2 (emotions: anger/ sadness) × 3 (interpersonal attribution of responsibility: ambiguity/ uncontrollable and external situation/ controllable situation and recipient own) mixed design with emotions as a between-subjects variable. Participants were randomly assigned to angry or sad conditions. Similar to study 1, emotions were induced through AEMT. Interpersonal attribution of responsibility was manipulated by varying the information about the person who needs help. In the ambiguity condition, the reason that the person needs help is not clear; in the uncontrollable and external situation condition, the reason that the person needs help is due to uncontrollable external situation; in the controllable situation and recipient own condition, the person who is in need of help is responsible for such circumstance. Prosocial decision making was measured by the amount of money participants were willing to donate. Across two studies we found that: (1) Participants in the sad condition were willing to spend more time and donate more money to others than their counterparts in the angry and neutral conditions. (2) Under the condition of ambiguous attribution of responsibility, participants who experienced sadness were more willing to help others compared to those in angry condition; in the uncontrollable and external situation conditions, and controllable situation and recipient own conditions, anger and sadness had similar effects on helping behavior. (3) In the sad condition, compared to ambiguous attribution of responsibility, participants were more willing to help when the responsibility was attributed to uncontrollable and external situation, whereas participants were less willing to help when the responsibility was attributed to the person who needs help. In the angry condition, participants were more willing to help when the responsibility was attributed to uncontrollable and external situation rather than when it was ambiguous or when the recipients were blamed. We conclude that (a) Incidental emotions of the same valence have different effects of carrying over on prosocial decision making- sadness facilitates helping behavior while anger impedes prosocial decision making, and (b) Interpersonal attribution of responsibility contributes to such effect. Anger and sadness have opposing effects on prosocial decision making only when the interpersonal attribution of responsibility remains ambiguous. These findings have important implications for understanding the mechanism underlying the impacts of different incidental emotions of the same valence on prosocial decision making.
Consumer’s calorie estimation plays an important role in food consumption choices. However, calorie estimation is often objective and biased based on many factors. One of the most important factors is saltiness. Hardly any studies exist to show the influence of saltiness on food consumption. While the association of saltiness and unhealthiness is obvious in daily life routines, it is very likely to have an effect on calorie estimation. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of saltiness on calorie estimation. We conducted four studies to examine our hypothesis. We adopted a laboratorial food taste task in study 1. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups (saltiness: strong vs. weak). They were asked to estimate the calorie content of the peanuts after eating them. The stimuli in two groups were the same except for the salt content. In order to examine the robustness of the effect among different age-groups and people from different regions, we enlarged our sampling to include young adults and elders, northerners and southerners in study 2. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups (saltiness: strong vs. weak) then they were shown a description of the type of food. Additionally, the mediating role of perceived healthiness is tested in study 2. We manipulated the healthy perception of salt in study 3 to test the mechanism indirectly. In the manipulated group, the participants were shown a report implying that salt could benefit us, while in the control group, the report showed that a smile was healthy. In study 4, we examined further the moderating role of food category as well as the mediating role of perceived healthiness in the effect of saltiness on calorie estimation with a 2 (saltiness: strong vs. weak) × 2 (food category: healthy vs. unhealthy) between subject design. Participants were randomly divided into 4 groups and showed a description of food (e.g., chips mixed with salt). In all studies, participants needed to estimate the calorie content of the food described. As predicted, we found that consumer’s estimation in calorie would significantly increase when food was saltier. The effect is robust among different age groups as well as participants from Southern China and Northern China. Nevertheless, when salt was primed to be a healthy element to our body, the increase of calorie estimation in saltier food no longer existed. Moreover, food categories played a moderating role. Consumers were more likely to overestimate the number of calories in saltier healthy food than in unhealthy ones. Furthermore, the results showed that participants perceived healthiness mediate the effect of saltiness in calorie estimation. As perceived healthiness increased, consumers’ estimation of calorie increased as well. The mediating effect existed only in healthy foods. These results enrich literature regarding calorie estimation. First, this study explored the field of taste in which it is the most related factor in food consumption. Secondly, it added the evidence that calorie estimation is irrational and easily biased due to salt itself contains zero calories. Third, we examined the perceived healthiness as a mechanism to the effect. Moreover, this study has shown some insight for companies. By making food products less salty, sales may increase not only because it may seem healthier to consumers but it may also cause consumers to underestimate the amount calorie intake.
Prosocial behavior refers to behaviors that benefit others, such as sharing, helping and cooperating. The development of prosocial behavior is an important part of adolescent socialization. Substantial literature has documented the important influence of parent-child attachment on prosocial behavior; however, little is known about the mediating and moderating mechanisms underlying this relation. In this study, guided by development system theories and attachment theory, a moderated mediation model was constructed to examine the effects and underlying mechanisms of family (parent-child attachment), individual (psychological capital) and peer (deviant peer affiliation) factors on adolescent prosocial behavior. Specifically, the present study examined whether parent–child attachment is indirectly related to prosocial behavior through psychological capital, and whether this indirect association is moderated by deviant peer affiliation. A total of 737 junior high school students (mean age = 13.92 years, SD = 0.73) participated in this study. They anonymously filled out questionnaires regarding parent-child attachment, psychological capital, deviant peer affiliation, and prosocial behavior. All the measures have good reliability and validity. After controlling for gender and age, the structural equation model showed that: (1) parent-child attachment had a positive effect on prosocial behavior; (2) the positive impact of parent-child attachment on prosocial behavior was mediated by psychological capital; and (3) the mediating effect of psychological capital was moderated by deviant peer affiliation. The indirect effect was stronger for adolescents with low deviant peer affiliation than for those with high deviant peer affiliation. These findings contribute to our understanding of how and when parent-child attachment affects adolescent prosocial behavior as viewed through the lenses of different subsystems of development system theories. On the one hand, psychological capital plays an important role in the association between parent-child attachment and prosocial behavior; therefore, more attention should be paid to psychological capital and parent-child attachment and their roles in improving adolescent prosocial behavior. On the other hand, junior high school students with more deviant peer affiliations may require more attention, because parent–child attachment has a weaker protective effect on them in comparison with students with fewer deviant peer affiliations. The cultivation of adolescent prosocial behavior should focus not only on the effects of family factors, peer factors, and individual factors separately, but also on the combined influence of those factors.