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Catherine Bohn-Gettler, Diana Fenton, Erin Donohue


Emotions and beliefs play a critical role in our everyday lives and may even interact to influence our processing of information. Prior research has proposed numerous models of emotion, belief, and comprehension processes that intersect in their methodology. The present study examines this interaction between emotions and beliefs on the comprehension of texts about the controversial topic of climate change. Given an emotion induction to elicit a positive or negative emotion, the comprehension of controversial texts about climate change is measured through the use of Inference Verification Tasks developed by Strømsø et al. (2010). It was anticipated that prior beliefs would interact with emotions to influence comprehension. In alignment with the results of Fiedler and Beier (2014), it was found that participants who held neutral beliefs about climate change that were induced to feel sad emotions performed better than happy-induced participants on questions assessing within-text inference verification. Beliefs removed the effects of emotions in the other conditions. The results provide insight into the implications of emotions and beliefs on the comprehension of controversial topics.