On March 13, 2023, Lisa Son, professor of psychology, published new research in Frontiers in Psychology, alongside colleagues, titled “Negative emotion can be ‘more negative’ for those with high metacognitive abilities when problem-solving.” The study analyzed how negative emotions interfere with metacognitive monitoring ability, which usually enables people to learn and solve problems more efficiently. To test this, the researchers divided study participants into groups with high and low innate monitoring abilities, presented them with emotional videos to uncover their effects, and then examined their problem-solving strategies using the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT).
Results showed that the participants with high monitoring ability used more efficient problem-solving strategies compared to those with lower monitoring ability, but only in situations when positive or no emotions were manipulated. On the other hand, when the video created a negative emotional response, the CRT scores of the high monitoring ability group were significantly lowered, decreasing to the same level of performance as those with low monitoring ability. In sum, the researchers found that metacognitive monitoring ability, when interacting with emotion, indirectly affected CRT scores, and that monitoring and control, when affected by emotion, were mediated in the process. Son and her colleagues assert that these findings suggest a novel and complicated interaction between emotion and metacognition that warrants further research.