Document Type

Honors Paper


Jeff Moher

Publication Date



In two experiments, the influence of inducing negative mood on cognitive performance was explored by analyzing physical arm reaching movements as indicators of mind wandering. Mood was induced by viewing a series of six photos per mood condition that were previously established for their emotionally valenced and arousal ratings. A reach tracking device recorded three metrics of arm movement that were expected to reflect instances of mind wandering: initiation latency, movement time, and arm curvature. In the first experiment, 29 participants were randomly assigned into one of two induced-mood groups, negative mood (n = 15) or neutral mood (n = 14). Participants performed a simple Go/No-go task in which arm movements were detected by the reach tracker. The first experiment indicated that the mood inducement was successful but the effect of negative mood on either self-reported mind wandering or variances in arm movement were not significant. Thus, the second experiment prompted the change to a visual-search target-selection task in which variances in initiation latency, movement time, and curvature were expected to be more pronounced. The second experiment consisted of 23 participants who were also randomly assigned to either negative (n = 12) or neutral (n = 11) mood condition. The second experiment revealed that the mood induction was still successful but that there were still no significant effects observed between mood and indicators of mind wandering. Though the results of this study did not reflect initial predictions, it may suggest that low-arousing negative moods in healthy individuals are not associated with increased mind wandering.



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