Negative emotions can attenuate the influence of beliefs on logical reasoning

Vinod Goel, Oshin Vartanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although the influence of beliefs on logical reasoning is well documented, how emotions modulate the effect of beliefs during reasoning remains unexamined. We instructed participants to reason about syllogisms involving neutral or emotionally charged content. We also manipulated the consistency of beliefs with logical validity. When content was neutral, participants exhibited the belief-bias effect observed in previous studies of reasoning. In contrast, when confronted with emotionally charged content participants were less likely to be influenced by their beliefs. Our results suggest that under certain conditions negative emotions can attenuate the influence of beliefs during logical reasoning. Drawing on the affect infusion model, we attribute this effect to a more vigilant, systematic scrutiny of beliefs in the presence of negative emotions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011



  • Belief
  • Emotion
  • Reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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