When emotion does and does not impair performance: A Garner theory of the emotional Stroop effect

Yaniv Mama*, Moshe Shay Ben-Haim, Daniel Algom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

It takes people longer to name the ink colour of emotion or threat words than that of neutral words, the emotional Stroop effect (ESE). In three experiments with normal and patient populations, we show that the ESE is a special case of a generic attention model and effect entailed in Garner's speeded classification paradigm. Guided by the Garner model we demonstrate that task-irrelevant dimensions that differ in salience can produce the ESE and mimic it with neutral stimuli. When each word appears in a constant colour, as mandated in the correlation condition of the Garner design, the ESE is eliminated. This important result is consistent with the attention account of the ESE. We conclude that when emotion stimuli appear in a random fashion they interfere with task performance. However, when emotion stimuli are correlated with features of the ongoing task they help task performance not least due to their extreme salience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-602
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Dimensional salience
  • Performance under emotion
  • The Garner paradigm
  • The emotional Stroop effect

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