Humans navigate complex environments effectively by identifying and monitoring environmental spatial cues (i.e., landmarks). Previous research has shown that affective states modulate cue utilization, attentional focus, and memory. Like other human behaviors, navigation is performed within an affective context and thus may fall under its influence. The present study examines the influence of affective state on cue utilization in novel virtual environments. Employing a within-participants factorial design, we manipulated participants' affect, crossing valence (happy, sad) and arousal (high, low), with available cue type (global cues: present, absent; and local cues: present, absent) within a desktop virtual environment. Results indicated that low relative to high arousal states promote global cue utilization during navigation through novel environments; there were no effects of affective valence. Arousal effects decreased with environmental familiarity, indicating its influence on cue utilization during the initial learning of novel environments. The results are discussed with regard to theories of affect, spatial cognition, and navigation.

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