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In psychology, the Emotional Stroop Test is used as an information process approach to assessment of emotions, of particular use to psychologists. Adapted from the standard Stroop test, the emotional Stroop test works by examining the response time of the participant to name colors of negative emotional words, e.g. depressed participants will be slower to say the color of depressing words rather than non-depressing words. Non-clinial subjects have also been shown to be slower to name the color of emotional words (i.e., war, cancer, kill) relative to neutral words (i.e., clock, lift, windy).
While the emotional Stroop and the classic Stroop elicit similar behavioral outcomes – a slowing in response times to colored words – these tests engage different mechanisms of interference (McKenna & Sharma, 2004). 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 effect slowing effect. 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 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, however, do involve the need to suppress responses to distracting word information, while selectively maintaining attention on the color of the word to complete the task. (Compton et al, 2003).
Algom, D., Chajut, E. & Lev, S. (2005). A rational look at the emotional stroop phenomenon: a generic slowdown, not a stroop effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Geneneral, 134:585-91.
Compton, R.J., Banich, M.T., Mohanty, A., Milham, M.P., Herrington, J., Miller, G.A., Scalf, P.E., Webb, A. & Heller, W. (2003). Paying attention to emotion: an fMRI investigation of cognitive and emotional stroop tasks. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 3:81-96.
McKenna, F.P. & Sharma, D. (2004). Reversing the emotional Stroop effect reveals that it is not what it seems: the role of fast and slow components. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 30, 382-92.
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