Stopping anger and anxiety: evidence that inhibitory ability predicts negative emotional responding

Cogn Emot. 2014;28(1):132-42. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2013.799459. Epub 2013 May 30.


Research has begun to suggest that cognitive ability contributes to emotional processes and responses. The present study sought novel evidence for this hypothesis by examining the relationship between individual differences in the capacity for inhibitory control and responses to a common emotion-induction procedure involving autobiographical memories. Participants first completed a stop-signal task to measure inhibitory control and then underwent an anger, anxiety, or neutral emotion induction. Performance on the stop-signal task predicted emotional responses such that participants with poorer inhibitory control reported larger increases in anger following the anger induction and larger increases in anxiety across emotion induction conditions, relative to better inhibitors. These results suggest that individual differences in cognitive ability may influence the intensity of emotional states induced by common laboratory methods of emotion induction.

MeSH terms

  • Anger*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Personality Inventory