Neurobiological theories of affective processing suggest that different affective states can make people more sensitive to the stimulation impinging on different sensory channels. Five experiments show that consumers in a negative affective state experience enhanced sensitivity to the tactile benefits of products, whereas consumers in a positive affective state experience enhanced sensitivity to the visual benefits of products. Affect-based sensory sensitivity is a consequence of adaptations that induce mammals to seek social support when in a negative affective state and explore the environment when in a positive affective state. In humans, these adaptations are part of an innate system that influences preferences for products with tactile or visual benefits.
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