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When words get hot, mental multitaskers collect cool
Date:5/11/2011

How useful would it be to anticipate how well someone will control their emotions? To predict how well they might be able to stay calm during stress? To accept critical feedback stoically?

Heath A. Demaree, professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, finds clues in what psychologists call "hot" and "cold" psychology.

"People differ with regard to how well they can control their emotions, and one factor that predicts it is non-emotional in nature it is a 'cold' cognitive construct," Demaree explains referring to Working Memory Capacity.

Working memory capacity, or WMC, is the "ability to process a stream of information while engaging in a separate task or while being distracted" he said. For example, taking notes during a lecture: you must listen to what the lecturer is saying at the moment, remember what has already been said, and write it down.

People with a high level of working memory capacity were best at using a coping mechanism to make themselves feel better and control negative emotions after being harshly criticized.

This kind of research where "cold" cognitive psychology meets "hot" emotional psychology is a new route providing the foundation for Demaree's recent study: "Working Memory Capacity and Spontaneous Emotion Regulation: High Capacity Predicts Self-Enhancement in Response to Negative Feedback," published in Emotion.

In the study, Demaree and Brandon J. Schmeichel, a professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, test connections between high WMC and the control of emotions.

Demaree explains that this research is "rare because it predicts how emotional functioning is related to WMC and ours is some of the first research that shows that cold cognition predicts hot emotion."

This research follows a 2008 study, "Working Memory Capacity and the Self-Regulation of Emotional Expression and Experience" conducted by Demaree, Schmeichel, and Rachael N. Volokhov. The researcher
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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