Task choice shields against incidental affective influences on effort-related cardiovascular response

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In an attempt to integrate theorizing on action shielding with affective influences on effort-related cardiovascular response, an experiment with N = 115 university students (90% women) tested whether working on a task by personal choice versus external assignment moderates the effect of happy versus sad background music on effort-related cardiovascular response during task performance. We predicted strong action shielding and low receptivity for incidental affective influences when participants could ostensibly choose the task to be performed. Given the difficult nature of the task, we thus expected strong effort-related cardiovascular responses due to high commitment when the task was chosen. By contrast, for assigned-task participants, we expected high receptivity for incidental affective influences and thus predicted strong cardiovascular reactivity when they were exposed to happy music but low responses due to disengagement when they were exposed to sad music. Effects on responses of cardiac pre-ejection period, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate confirmed our effort-related predictions. Apparently, personal choice of a task can immunize individuals against incidental affective influences on resource mobilization.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14022
Issue number7
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2022

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 100014_185348/1) awarded to Guido H. E. Gendolla. We thank Hadir Elhanafi for her help as hired experimenter. The data and data coding for the reported studies are available on Yareta—the open access data archiving server of the University of Geneva: https://doi.org/10.26037/yareta:4c2xzq5agvds3k4qinscecj57y. Open Access Funding provided by Universite de Geneve. [Correction added on 20 May 2022, after first online publication: CSAL funding statement has been added.]

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.

    Research areas

  • action shielding, affect, cardiovascular response, effort, volition
  • Psychology