Title: Associate Professor, Ph.D.
Office: 120 Coffey Hall
Doctorate: Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Virginia, 2007
Masters: MA in Social Psychology from the University of Virginia, 2003
Bachelors: BA in Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University, 1999
Website: ESC Lab
Google Scholar: Jeffrey Huntsinger
Classes Taught: PSYC 238 Sex & Gender: Differences & Similarities; PSYC 275 Social Psychology
The opposite of a great truth is also true. William J. McGuire (1973)
Something of a great truth in the affect-cognition literature is the idea that the cognitive consequences of affect are etched in psychological stone. Positive and negative emotions, for example, have distinct cognitive and perceptual effects: positive moods make people think in superficial ways, and negative moods make people think more analytically; happy people are quick to focus on the forest, and sad people are quick to focus on the trees; and so forth.
My research turns this great truth on its head by showing that the influence of affect on cognition is highly flexible. I take as a theoretical starting point the view that positive and negative affect influence cognition simply by providing information about the value or validity of accessible thoughts and styles of thinking (Huntsinger, Isbell & Clore, 2014). Positive affect serves as a “go signal” that encourages the use of mental content and negative affect serves as a “stop signal” that discourages the use of such content. Thus, rather than assuming a direct or dedicated connection between affect and styles of cognitive processing, this view implies that the impact of affect on cognition should be quite malleable and depend on what thoughts and responses happen to be in mind at the time. Further, the reason that affect appeared to have fixed effects on cognition in past research is that, across people and situations, the same thoughts and styles of thinking are usually highly accessible.
Huntsinger, J. R., & Ray, C. (in press). A flexible influence of affective feelings on creative and analytic performance. Emotion.
Huntsinger, J. R., Isbell, L., & Clore, G. L. (2014). The affective control of thought: Malleable, not fixed. Psychological Review, 141, 600-618.
Huntsinger, J. R. (2013) Does emotion directly tune the scope of attention? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 265-270.
Huntsinger, J. R. (2012). Does positive affect broaden and negative affect narrow attentional scope? A new answer to an old question. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 595-600.