Mackay et al., 2004 - Memory & Cognition 2004, 32 (3),...

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Copyright 2004 Psychonomic Society, Inc. 474 This study demonstrates six interrelated effects of emo- tion on attention and memory. The main one is the taboo Stroop effect : When people name the color of randomly intermixed taboo and neutral words, color-naming times are longer for taboo than for neutral words (Siegrist, 1995). The taboo Stroop effect shares characteristics with two other effects, known as the clinical and the emotional Stroop effects. The clinical Stroop effect occurs when pa- tients with a particular affective disorder (e.g., spider- phobia) name the colors of words that are either phobia re- lated (e.g., web ) or phobia unrelated (e.g., wet ): Color- naming times are longer for the patients than for the nor- mal controls, but only for the phobia-related words (e.g., Dalgleish & Watts, 1990; Mathews & MacLeod, 1985; Richards & Millwood, 1989; Watts, McKenna, Sharrock, & Tresize, 1986). However, unlike taboo Stroop effects, which are robust across experimental contexts and are not confined to individuals suffering from clinical disorders, clinical Stroop effects (for a review, see Williams, Math- ews, & MacLeod, 1996) are often small, difficult to repli- cate (see MacLeod & Hodder, 1998), context specific (e.g., readily observable with blocked, but not with randomly in- termixed, emotional and unemotional words; see Richards, French, Johnson, Naparstek, & Williams, 1992), and vari- able (e.g., holding for some types of clinical traits and emotional disorders, but not for others; see Matthews & Harley, 1996). A closer relative of the taboo Stroop effect is the emo- tional Stroop effect, the fact that people take longer to name the color of unpleasant words (e.g., grief , fail , fear , and death ) than that of neutral words (see, e.g., Sharma & McKenna, 2001; Whalen et al., 1998). Unlike taboo Stroop effects, time pressure (240 msec or less between prior re- sponse and subsequent color word) may be essential for observing emotional Stroop effects (see Sharma & Mc- Kenna, 2001). Moreover, the label emotional Stroop effect may be inappropriate: Repeated failures to demonstrate emotional Stroop effects for pleasant words suggest that negative affect, rather than emotionality per se, may un- derlie emotional Stroop effects (see McKenna & Sharma, 1995; Richards & Millwood, 1989). Despite these com- plications, clinical and emotional Stroop effects have stim- ulated development of a global resource theory of emotion and attention, which we will outline next in order to frame the general issues that motivated the present experiments. Under the theory, emotional reactions “soak up pro- cessing resources” (Bower, 1992, p. 17), and clinical and emotional Stroop effects occur when limited-capacity at- tentional resources are allocated to threatening stimuli, thereby reducing resources available for processing and responding to other stimuli (e.g., font color). If one applies this basic logic to taboo words, by attracting attentional re- sources, taboo words will slow down color naming, rela- This article is dedicated to Wayne Wickelgren (1938–). The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Samuel A. MacKay Memorial Research Fund and NIA Grant R01AG 09755. The authors thank Irwin
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Mackay et al., 2004 - Memory & Cognition 2004, 32 (3),...

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