Personal task choice attenuates implicit happiness effects on effort: A study on cardiovascular response

David Framorando, Johanna R. Falk, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Gabriele Oettingen, Guido H.E. Gendolla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on the Implicit-Affect-Primes-Effort model (Gendolla, 2012) found that priming happiness or anger in challenging tasks results in stronger sympathetically mediated cardiovascular responses, reflecting effort, than priming sadness or fear. Recent studies on action shielding revealed that personal task choice can attenuate affective influences on action execution (e.g., Gendolla et al., 2021). The present experiment tested if this action shielding effect also applies to affect primes' influences on cardiovascular response. Participants (N = 136) worked on a cognitive task with integrated briefly flashed and backward masked facial expressions of sadness vs. happiness. Half of the participants could ostensibly choose whether they wanted to work on an attention or on a memory task, while the other half was assigned to one task. Our findings revealed effects on cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP), which align with the expected outcomes for a task of unfixed difficulty where participants establish their own performance standard. Most importantly, task choice shielded against the implicit affective influence on PEP that was evident when the task was externally assigned. Effects on systolic blood pressure (SBP) reactivity largely corresponded to those of PEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112282
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Action shielding
  • Cardiovascular response
  • Effort
  • Implicit affect
  • Pre-ejection period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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