Emotional dimensions as determinants of self-focused attention

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Emotions; Attention; Self Concept


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


Negative emotions, and particularly sadness, have been found to induce self-focused attention among both depressed and normal individuals. However, positive emotion, such as happiness, is sometimes found to have a similar effect. The present study examines the effect of emotion on self-focus induction by looking separately at the emotional dimensions of valence and arousal. It postulates that arousal would be even more potent than valence in increasing self-focus, since it increases the salience of the self. Results of Experiment 1 showed that emotions that are both intense and negative, such as fear, induce the most self-focus, but pleasant relaxation also resulted in increased self-focusing. Experiment 2, using a similar design, replicated the arousal effect, and showed that fear and joy, the two most arousing emotions resulted in the most self-focus.


Panayiotou, G., Brown, R., & Vrana, S. (2007). Emotional dimensions as determinants of self-focused attention, Cognition and Emotion, 21, 5, 982-998.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cognition and Emotion


At the time of publication, Rashelle Hayes (Rashelle Brown) was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.