, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 757-764

Snake Fear and the Pictorial Emotional Stroop Paradigm

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to test a novel pictorial emotional Stroop paradigm that required participants to name the colors of filtered images on a computer screen. High (n = 20) and low (n = 20) snake-fearful participants color-named filters covering images of snakes (threat), cows (neutral), bunnies (positive), and blank screens. Each image appeared as if viewed through tinted sunglasses. The results revealed that both groups took longer to name the colors of filters covering bunnies as well as snakes relative to filters covering cows. Intensely snake-fearful individuals (n = 5), however, exhibited additional interference for snake pictures beyond that evoked by bunny pictures. Thus, pictorial cues having positive as well as negative emotional valence disproportionately captured attention. This paradigm shows promise as a nonlexical, ecologically valid approach to evaluating selective processing of emotional cues.