The emotional Stroop task and psychopathology

Psychol Bull. 1996 Jul;120(1):3-24. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.120.1.3.


Attentional bias is a central feature of many cognitive theories of psychopathology. One of the most frequent methods of investigating such bias has been an emotional analog of the Stroop task. In this task, participants name the colors in which words are printed, and the words vary in their relevance to each theme of psychopathology. The authors review research showing that patients are often slower to name the color of a word associated with concerns relevant to their clinical condition. They address the causes and mechanisms underlying the phenomenon, focusing on J.D. Cohen, K. Dunbar, and J.L. McClelland's (1990) parallel distributed processing model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Psychopathology
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading*
  • Semantics*