It’s well-established in psychology that intense emotion and physiological arousal interfere with people’s ability to think straight. However, a team at the Autonomous University of Barcelona believe that not enough consideration has so far been given to what they call the “valence” of intense situations – whether or not the person sees the intense experience as positive or negative. To find out whether this makes a difference, Judit Castellà and her colleagues tested dozens of bungee jumpers (most of them first-timers) three times before and after jumping.
The surprising findings, reported in Cognition and Emotion, suggest that when an intensely arousing experience is perceived positively, it may actually enhance cognition rather than be impairing. Continue reading →