Simultaneous maintenance of emotions in affective working memory

Nour Kardosh*, Christian Waugh, Joseph Mikels, Nilly Mor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Affective Working Memory (AWM) is the ability to maintain an emotion after the emotion-eliciting stimulus is no longer present. Emotions are dynamic, and emotion-eliciting stimuli are encountered simultaneously and sequentially. Therefore, this research aimed to examine AWM when more than one emotion is being maintained. We aimed to re-examine previous findings, that people are better at maintaining positive than negative emotions in the context of dynamic presentations of multiple stimuli. We introduce a modified maintenance task, and present a novel metric that models the latent maintenance processes to acquire an accurate measure of AWM. Participants (N = 49) were asked to complete the study online. On each trial, participants were presented with a sequence of three images, and were asked to compare the intensity of the emotion elicited by image 1 to image 3, whilst maintaining the emotion elicited by image 2 to rate it at the end of the trial. The results showed that people are successful at simultaneously maintaining two emotions in AWM, and they replicate previous findings concerning the advantage of maintaining positive compared to negative emotions. Overall, the study highlights the complexity of AWM and provides insight into the processes involved in maintaining multiple emotions simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-634
Number of pages11
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Affective working memory
  • emotion maintenance
  • mixed emotions
  • working memory


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