Mood and Lexical Access of Positive, Negative, and Neutral Words

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Two experiments based upon the Reicher task were conducted to investigate the influence of happy, sad, and neutral moods on the processing of positive, negative, and neutral words. In Experiment 1 participants showed least advantage in determining which of two one-letter-different words, in comparison with nonword controls, had been presented for words that were valenced in congruence with the induced mood. In Experiment 2 mood acted as a prime that produced a detrimental effect of presenting nontarget mood-congruent preview words on participants' performance on the valenced targets. The authors contend that these effects are related to mood’s altering of the baseline activation levels of congruently valenced word nodes in the mental lexicon as well as to mood’s narrowing of the spatial focus of attention.