Award Date

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

David Copeland

Second Committee Member

Mark Ashcraft

Third Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Fourth Committee Member

Richard Warren

Fifth Committee Member

Courtney Coughenour

Number of Pages



This dissertation investigates whether a person’s current mood state influences their ability to learn implicitly. Implicit learning refers to learning about regularities in the environment without having conscious access to the information (e.g., Reber, 1967). According to the affect-as-information hypothesis, a positive mood increases global processing of incoming information and negative mood leads to local processing (e.g., Clore & Storbeck, 2006); however, most previous studies that investigated mood and cognition have focused on more explicit types of learning and decision making, but few have examined implicit processes. Thus, the current experiments examined how varying levels of mood and arousal affect artificial grammar learning. A pilot experiment demonstrated an advantage for positive mood when the images were mood inducing. Experiment 1 had a separate mood induction phase and participants completed an artificial grammar task that contained letters. These results replicated an earlier study by Pretz et al. (2010) that showed an advantage for those in a negative mood. Experiment 2 was an expansion of the pilot by including standardized images and two additional mood groups (positive-high arousal and neutral). However, there were no significant differences between mood conditions. Experiment 3 used categories of pictures and found a disadvantage for those in a positive / high aroused state. While the patterns across the experiments were slightly different, altogether, the results were not consistent with the predictions made by the affect-as-information hypothesis. As addressed in the dissertation, this could be due to certain elements of the artificial grammar learning procedure, such as the long viewing phase diminishing the mood and arousal induction effects. The dissertation also considers other possibilities, including the idea that implicit learning is not as affected by mood as explicit learning.


affect; artifical grammar learning; implicit learning; mood


Cognitive Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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