The Emotional Stroop Effect Test Information Page
In psychology, the Emotional Stroop Test is used as an information-processing approach to assessing emotions. Related to the standard Stroop effect, the emotional Stroop test works by examining the response time of the participant to name colors of negative emotional words. For example, depressed participants will be slower to say the color of depressing words rather than non-depressing words. Non-clinical subjects have also been shown to name the color of an emotional word (e.g., "war", "cancer", "kill") slower than naming the color of a neutral word (e.g., "clock", "lift", "windy") (Gotlib & McCann, 1984).
While the emotional Stroop test and the classic Stroop effect elicit similar behavioral outcomes (a slowing in response times to colored words), these tests engage different mechanisms of interference. The classic Stroop test creates a conflict between an incongruent color and word (the word ‘RED’ in font color blue) but the emotional Stroop involves only emotional and neutral words—color does not affect slowing because it does not conflict with word meaning. In other words, studies show the same effects of slowing for emotional words relative to neutral even if all the words are black. Thus, the emotional Stroop does not involve an effect of conflict between a word meaning and a color of text, but rather appears to capture attention and slow response time due to the emotional relevance of the word for the individual. The emotional Stroop test has been used broadly in clinical studies using emotional words related to a particular individual's area of concern, such as alcohol-related words for someone who is alcoholic, or words involving a particular phobia for someone with anxiety or phobic disorders. Both the classic and the emotional Stroop tests, however, involve the need to suppress responses to distracting word information, while selectively maintaining attention on the color of the word to complete the task.
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