Positive moods promote a focus on the forest (global focus) and negative moods, a focus on the trees (local focus). Is this well-established link fixed or variable? Does it reflect a direct influence of affect, as usually assumed, or is it frequently observed simply because a global perspective is often dominant? If affect serves as information about the value of currently accessible inclinations, and a global focus is generally the default perspective, then the global focus of positive affect and local focus of negative affect might be variable rather than fixed. Two experiments tested this hypothesis using different mood inductions, different tests of global-local focus, and different methods of inducing global and local perspectives. In each, we discovered that positive affect empowered whatever focus was momentarily dominant. Thus, whether individuals in happy moods saw the forest or the trees depended only on which of the two had been primed.
- Cognitive processing
- Global-local focus