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When there is an established strategy to solve a problem, we often approach the problem with a mindset that makes us blind for more efficient solutions. We examined the role of affect in overcoming such blinding effects of mindsets. As positive affect is known to broaden and negative affect to narrow thought–action repertoires, we speculated that positive affect facilitates and negative affect impedes the overcoming of a current mindset. To induce a mindset, participants initially solved 60 similar problems which were only solvable using the same complex strategy. After a short break in which positive or negative affect was induced, participants continued to work on the problems. Critically, there now was an additional simple way to solve the problems. Participants experiencing positive affect were more likely to detect the simple solution than participants experiencing negative affect. These findings reveal that affect modulates how much we are constrained by current mindsets.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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