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The effect of emotion on perception has been a topic of interest through much of the history of psychological thought. The notion that what we see is influenced by our internal emotional and motivational states is appealing to those inclined to view aspects of the mind as interconnected even at the earliest information-processing stages. Although accumulated evidence demonstrates that emotion affects the result of perceptual processing—that is, perceptual awareness—questions remain debated and unresolved regarding the precise processing stages at which emotion exerts its influence.

In the 1940s and 1950s, pioneering work by Jerome Bruner and colleagues inspired what became known as the “New Look” movement, a loosely knit effort among psychologists to reveal contributions of emotion, knowledge, personality, and motivation to perception. In one of their ...

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