Health information processed under limited attention: Is it better to be "hot" or "cool"?

Sara J. Parent, Andrew Ward, Traci Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: The attentional myopia model (T. Mann & A. Ward, 2004) posits that under conditions of limited attention, individuals will be disproportionately influenced by highly salient cues. The "hot/cool" model (J. Metcalfe & W. Mischel, 1999) suggests that cues designed to activate "hot" emotional systems will typically dominate attention and promote relevant behavior more than cues designed to activate "cool" cognitive systems. Method: While under conditions of high or low cognitive load, participants heard information regarding the use of a zinc supplement and reported their intentions to try it. In Study 1, cool message cues that promoted the use of zinc were more salient than hot cues that discouraged its use. In Study 2, hot cues that discouraged the use of zinc were more salient than cool cues that promoted its use. Results: In both studies, the imposition of cognitive load increased the influence of salient cues, regardless of their motivational "temperature." Conclusions: Consistent with the attentional myopia model, either hot or cool health message cues can exert strong influence over individuals, depending on the relative salience of those cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Cool cognitive systems
  • Cues
  • Health messages
  • Hot emotional systems
  • Limited attention
  • Self-control
  • Self-regulation


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