, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 81-97
Date: 17 Sep 2013

Is the emotional Stroop task a special case of mood induction? Evidence from sustained effects of attention under emotion

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Sustained effects of emotion are well known in everyday experience. Surprisingly, such effects are seldom recorded in laboratory studies of the emotional Stroop task, in which participants name the color of emotion and neutral words. Color performance is more sluggish with emotion words than with neutral words, the emotional Stroop effect (ESE). The ESE is not sensitive to the order in which the two groups of words are presented, so the effect of exposure to emotion words does not extend to disrupting performance in a subsequent block with neutral words. We attribute this absence of a sustained effect to habituation engendered by excessive repetition of the experimental stimuli. In a series of four experiments, we showed that sustained effects do occur when habituation is removed, and we also showed that the massive exposure to negative stimuli within the ESE paradigm induces a commensurately negative mood. A novel perspective is offered, in which the ESE is considered a special case of mood induction.