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A negativity bias in detail generation during event simulation

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  • Vannia A. Puig, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  • Müge Özbek
  • ,
  • Karl K. Szpunar, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Novel negative events are simulated in more event-specific detail than novel positive events. In the present study, we set out to assess whether this negative event detail bias is specific to simulations of personal events or whether evoking negative valence, in the context of simulations of personal and nonpersonal events, is sufficient for boosting simulated event detail. Participants simulated novel negative and positive events that might take place in their future, the future of an acquaintance, or the future of a familiar individual with whom they have not had prior contact. Across 2 experiments, we found that novel negative events were simulated in more event-specific detail than novel positive events irrespective of whether the events under consideration were personal or nonpersonal. This pattern of results also emerged when negative and positive events did not differ on a subjective measure of arousal, indicating that negative valence may play a key role in encouraging detailed elaboration of novel negative events. Implications of our findings for the role of event simulation in adaptive behavior are discussed.

Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2020

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