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Daily fluctuations in positive affect positively co-vary with working memory performance

Positive affect is related to cognitive performance in multiple ways. It is associated with motivational aspects of performance, affective states capture attention, and information processing modes are a function of affect.

In this study, we examined whether these links are relevant within individuals across time when they experience minor ups and downs of positive affect and work on cognitive tasks in the laboratory on a day-to-day basis.

Using a microlongitudinal design, 101 younger adults (20-31 years of age) worked on 3 working memory tasks on about 100 occasions. Every day, they also reported on their momentary affect and their motivation to work on the tasks. In 2 of the 3 tasks, performance was enhanced on days when positive affect was above average. This performance enhancement was also associated with more motivation. Importantly, increases in task performance on days with above-average positive affect were mainly unrelated to variations in negative affect.

This study's results are in line with between-person findings suggesting that high levels of well-being are associated with successful outcomes. They imply that success on cognitively demanding tasks is more likely on days when feeling happier.

Brose, Annette; Lövdén, Martin; Schmiedek, Florian. Daily fluctuations in positive affect positively co-vary with working memory performance, in: Emotion, 14 (2014) 1 , 1-6

last modified Aug 03, 2015