Do the Math: Cognitive Load Attenuates Negative Feelings

To conclude, the foregoing work proposes that because cognitive processes and emotion processes compete over limited mental resources, people can take the edge of aversive emotional states by engaging in a cognitive task. Importantly, the degree to which people find relief from their negative feelings may depend on the extent to which people tax their mental resources. Thus, mildly dysphoric moods may be regulated by mildly demanding tasks, such as sorting ones mail, or making a grocery list, whereas intensely negative responses call for more fully engaging activities, such as filling out ones tax form, or taking a course of Mandarin Chinese. So in order to make the Mail Goggles even more effective, in addition to the timing of the application, one should also be able to adjust the difficulty of the math problems: mildly complex ones for an average weekend, and mind-boggling math equations for those gloomy nights right after a romantic break-up.


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