Affective compatibility with the self modulates the self-prioritisation effect

Merryn Dale Constable*, Maike Lena Becker, Ye-In Oh, Günther Knoblich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The "self" shapes the way in which we process the world around us. It makes sense then, that self-related information is reliably prioritised over non self-related information in cognition. How might other factors such as self-compatibility shape the way self-relevant information is prioritised? The present work asks whether affective consistency between the self and arbitrarily self-associated stimuli influences the degree to which self-prioritisation can be observed. To this end, participants were asked to associate themselves with either a positive or a negative concept and to then indicate if a given stimulus (Experiment 1: Emotional faces; Experiment 2: Luminance cues) and an identity label matched. If affective consistency is key to self-prioritisation, negative constructs should dampen self-prioritisation and positive constructs should boost self-prioritisation because the self is universally construed as positive. Indeed, the results of the two experiments indicate that participants who made the negative association had more difficulty confirming whether the stimulus and the label matched than those who made the positive association. The implications of this finding are discussed in terms of "self" theories that span various levels of information processing. The data reveal that self-referential information processing goes beyond a default elevation of priority to the self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalCognition & Emotion
Volume35
Issue number2
Early online date5 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

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