Temperament and Attentional Bias in Vocal Emotional Stroop Tasks


Marko Paelecke, Department of Psychology I, Julius-Maximilians-Universität, D-97070 Würzburg, Germany.

E-mail: marko.paelecke@uni-wuerzburg.de


Human information processing is influenced by the affective quality of pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. A widely known example is the emotional variant of the colour-naming Stroop task. Although participants are not instructed to attend to valence, it nevertheless influences response times. We studied how persons differ in ignoring the irrelevant valence of stimuli and how such differences are related to personality traits. In two emotional Stroop tasks using a vocal response mode, participants were instructed to name the colour of unpleasant and pleasant words presented in different physical colours. In Study 2, we introduced a second task to increase the cognitive load. Across both studies, extraversion and approach temperament were associated with higher interferences by pleasant words. Neuroticism and avoidance temperament, however, were associated with higher interferences by unpleasant words only when cognitive load increased because of a task switch. This finding suggests that highly neurotic individuals can mitigate influences of emotional stimuli on information processing under conditions of low cognitive load. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.