Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. John Paul Minda

Abstract

The influence of mood and motivation on cognitive processes has enjoyed a significant amount of attention in the last few decades, but due to inconsistencies in methodologies and tasks conclusions remain subject to debate. The questions addressed in this thesis are how: 1) positive mood, 2) negative mood, and 3) depressive symptoms influence or relate to cognitive flexibility using a category learning paradigm, and the final question addressed in this thesis is whether 4) regulatory focus and regulatory fit influence cognitive flexibility using a more naturalistic categorization task in which there are no correct or incorrect responses. Category learning and categorization tasks provide well-controlled and empirically validated paradigms in which to study the effects of mood and motivation on cognitive flexibility. Chapter 2 demonstrates that depressive symptoms are negatively related to complex rule-based category learning while positive mood is positively related to rule-based category learning, but positive mood and lifetime history of hypomanic symptoms contributed the most unique variance to rule-based category learning performance. Chapter 3 demonstrates that manipulated positive, but not negative, mood enhances performance on a complex rule-based category learning task, but mood does not significantly influence non-rule-based category learning. Chapter 4 demonstrates that a promotion regulatory focus results in higher low typicality exemplar ratings than a prevention regulatory focus, and additionally demonstrates that negative mood accounts for most of this effect. This represents the first series of studies to examine the influence of mood on category learning and demonstrates that positive mood enhances and is positively related to rule-based category learning.


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