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Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

Fall 2014

First Advisor

Linda M. Isbell

Subject Categories

Social Psychology

Abstract

Much of the research on feeling and thought supports the notion of a fixed relationship between affect and cognition, specifically that particular affective experiences promote particular ways of thinking (i.e., information processing styles). Surprisingly, little is known about the relationship between disgust and cognition, and this dissertation sought to rectify this omission. The recently proposed Cognitive Malleability approach (Clore, et al., 2001; Huntsinger & Clore, 2007; Isbell, 2010; Isbell, Lair, & Rovenpor, 2013) calls the fixed nature of the affect-cognition relationship into question, and instead argues that affect confers value on whatever information processing style is currently dominant. This new approach suggests that contrary to the current view of a fixed relationship between affect and cognition, this relationship is instead highly malleable. This dissertation had three primary research goals: (1) to determine whether disgust interacts with initial cognitive processing styles, (2) to investigate if a malleable relationship between disgust and cognition exists for both basic cognition (perceptual tasks) and upper-level cognition (conceptual tasks), and (3) to determine if disgust and cognition interact in low-disgust relevant contexts (neutral stimuli, social judgments) and high-disgust relevant contexts (disgusting stimuli, moral judgments). Results reveal that disgust acts as a stop signal on currently dominant information processing styles to influence visual attention to emotional stimuli (Study 2), impression formation in a social context (Study 3), and impression formation in a moral context (Study 4). Results from Study 1, which investigated how disgust and initial processing styles interact to influence visual attention to neutral stimuli, were inconclusive.

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