University of Sussex
Gurney, Angela.pdf (1.69 MB)

The effect of challenging inhibitory tasks on subsequent susceptibility to unconscious influences

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posted on 2023-06-09, 13:45 authored by Angela Gurney
Previous research has examined a variety of behavioural effects, thought to stem from mental exhaustion, following the prior use of inhibitory control. Here we attempt to examine whether such effects are apparent in unconscious behaviours. Chapter 1 demonstrates no effect of prior use of inhibitory control on subsequent susceptibility to subliminal priming of neutral (Experiment 1) and reward (Experiment 2) terms. Chapter 2 explores whether the prior use of inhibitory control influences the degree of susceptibility to an alternative source of influence, hypnotic induction, and provides the novel finding that inhibitory impairment does not affect hypnotic response. Chapter 3 utilises behavioural and fMRI imaging data to examine changes in a conscious facet of human experience often moderated by unconscious influences: emotion regulation. The results support a period of increased mood lability following a challenging inhibitory control task. However, we were unable to provide evidence of any underlying change in cortical activation and connectivity. Finally, Chapter 4 investigates whether this heightened mood lability following prior inhibitory control would also be mirrored in ratings of emotion attributed to positive and negatively valenced images (Experiment 1) and additionally, whether a mindfulness induction, previously documented to improve emotion regulation, would reduce individuals’ perception of the degree of valence attributed to the same images (Experiment 2). Contrary to predictions, we report substantial evidence for no effect of prior inhibitory control or a brief mindfulness manipulation on subsequent ratings of emotionally valenced stimuli. Taken together the research indicates that mental exhaustion arising from the use of self-control appears to have no effect on susceptibility to unconscious priming, hypnotic suggestions, and no effect on the perception of emotionally valenced images. However, prior use of inhibitory control does appear to affect the degree of emotional lability experienced following music.


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