Mood, expertise, analogy, and ritual: an experiment using the five-disk Tower of Hanoi

Russell, Yvan I. ORCID logoORCID:, Gobet, Fernand and Whitehouse, Harvey (2016) Mood, expertise, analogy, and ritual: an experiment using the five-disk Tower of Hanoi. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 6 (1) . pp. 67-87. ISSN 2153-599X [Article] (doi:10.1080/2153599X.2014.921861)


We used game playing as a proxy for religious ritual in a study of the differential effects of euphoric and dysphoric mood – focusing on expertise and analogical reasoning. Previous research demonstrates that euphoric individuals think more broadly and schematically, and that dysphoric individuals are more focused and details-oriented. We investigated the effect of mood on analogical transfer in four conditions: (1) expert euphoric; (2) expert dysphoric; (3) nonexpert euphoric; and (4) nonexpert dysphoric. Mood was induced from watching a 10 minute video (a comedy excerpt to induce euphoria; a realistic depiction of nuclear war for dysphoria). The affect grid was used for a manipulation check. In expert conditions, participants first played the five-disk Tower of Hanoi (TOH) game, followed by the Bear God (BG) task, a new isomorph of TOH (same rules, different surface features). Participants were not told about the hidden isomorphism. In nonexpert conditions, participants played an unrelated game first. Based on prior literature, it would be possible that dysphoria could either hamper or enhance analogical reasoning. We found evidence for the latter – superior performance in the dysphoric BG task – but only in the expert condition. The implication for religion is that expertise and dysphoria have special cognitive functions in ritual.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 18 Jun 2014
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 18149
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Depositing User: Yvan Russell
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2015 10:25
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 10:22

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