The emotional stroop task: Assessing cognitive performance under exposure to emotional content

Moshe Shay Ben-Haim*, Paul Williams, Zachary Howard, Yaniv Mama, Ami Eidels, Daniel Algom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The emotional Stroop effect (ESE) is the result of longer naming latencies to ink colors of emotion words than to ink colors of neutral words. The difference shows that people are affected by the emotional content conveyed by the carrier words even though they are irrelevant to the color-naming task at hand. The ESE has been widely deployed with patient populations, as well as with non-selected populations, because the emotion words can be selected to match the tested pathology. The ESE is a powerful tool, yet it is vulnerable to various threats to its validity. This report refers to potential sources of confounding and includes a modal experiment that provides the means to control for them. The most prevalent threat to the validity of existing ESE studies is sustained effects and habituation wrought about by repeated exposure to emotion stimuli. Consequently, the order of exposure to emotion and neutral stimuli is of utmost importance. We show that in the standard design, only one specific order produces the ESE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53720
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number112
StatePublished - 29 Jun 2016


  • Anxiety
  • Behavior
  • Emotion
  • Emotional stroop
  • Habituation
  • Issue 112
  • Selective attention
  • Sustained effect


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