Imagined positive emotions and inhibitory control: The differentiated effect of pride versus happiness

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Inhibitory control is a cognitive mechanism that contributes to successful self-control (i.e., adherence to a long-term goal in the face of an interfering short-term goal). This research explored the effect of imagined positive emotional events on inhibition. The authors proposed that the influence of imagined emotions on inhibition depends on whether the considered emotion corresponds to the attainment of a long-term goal (i.e., pride) or a short-term goal (i.e., happiness). The authors predicted that in an antisaccade task that requires inhibition of a distractor, imagining a happiness-eliciting event is likely to harm inhibitory processes compared with imagining a pride-eliciting event, because the former but not the latter primes interfering short-term goals. The results showed that imagining a happiness-eliciting event decreased inhibition relative to imagining a pride-eliciting event. The results suggest a possible mechanism underlying the role of imagined positive emotions in pursuit of goals that require self-control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1320
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2010


  • Imagined emotions
  • Inhibitory control
  • Positive emotions
  • Prepotent response
  • Self-control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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