Generative versus Cautious Processing: Shared Moods and Group-Level Information Processing

Open Access
Author:
Bramesfeld, Kosha Darlington-Sabin
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 24, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Karen Gasper, Committee Chair
  • Melvin Michael Mark, Committee Member
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Member
  • D Wayne Osgood, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • mood
  • affect
  • groups
  • information processing
  • problem-solving
  • decision-making
Abstract:
In this paper, I propose a Mood-as-Strategy Framework for understanding the effects of mood on group-level information processing. Across two experiments, I find that group members with shared positive moods develop a generative processing strategy, characterized by a focus on the unique, critical information that each group member can offer, in addition to the information that group members receive in common. In contrast, group members who share a negative mood develop a cautious processing strategy, characterized by a focus on the common information, but not on the unique information that each group member can provide. When group members do not share the same mood state (i.e. they experience diverse moods), group members fail to develop a common focus on the information, and instead engage in satisficing, characterized by a low focus on all of the information, and a heavy reliance on initial preferences. As a consequence of these different strategies, group members in positive moods, as compared to those in negative or diverse moods, perform well on tasks that require generating unique information. These experiments are important as they establish that (1) moods influence group processing independent of the effects of mood on individual information processing, (2) differences in processing strategies explain the effects of mood on performance, and (3) the experience of shared moods is just as important as the valence of the mood when considering the effect of mood on group-level information processing.