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Behav Res Ther. 1996 Nov-Dec;34(11-12):945-8.

Suppression of the emotional Stroop effect by increased anxiety in patients with social phobia.

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Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19129, USA.


Anxious individuals are slower at color-naming threat-related than nonthreat-related words in the emotional Stroop task. Recently, Mathews and Sebastian (1993, Cognition and Emotion, 7, 527-530) reported that this Stroop interference effect disappears when snake-fearful students are exposed to a snake while performing the color-naming task. In the present experiment, we had patients with social phobia and normal control subjects perform an emotional Stroop task under either low anxiety (i.e. upon entering the laboratory) or high anxiety (i.e. before giving a speech). Results indicated that Stroop interference for socially threatening words in the phobic group was suppressed under high anxiety. These findings may indicate that increased effort enables the subjects to suppress the interference produced in the Stroop task.

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