ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 3, Issue 3, 496-510, 2012
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Testing the Stroop Effect in a Nonclinical Sample: Hypervigilance or Difficulty to Disengage?

Natalie Peach(a), Martina Jovev(b), Alexander Foster(a) and Henry Jackson(a)
(a) Department of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
(b) Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 496-510

Traditional interpretations of the bias have suggested that anxious people are hypervigilant to threat; that is, their attention orients more quickly towards threatening stimuli. Recent research has questioned the validity of this interpretation, suggesting that difficulty disengaging attention from threat might play a role in the attentional bias. A limited number of experimental paradigms have differentiated between hypervigilance and difficulty disengaging. In this study, 169 undergraduate students completed an emotional Stroop task to investigate the presence of an attentional bias to threat, and a lexical decision task to differentiate between hypervigilance and difficulty disengaging. Hypotheses regarding the emotional Stroop task were partially supported; Stroop effects were found in some, but not all, of the threat-types investigated. Lexical decision task results lent support for the hypervigilance hypothesis. Anxiety levels did not predict the extent of the attentional bias. Results are discussed in relation to future directions for attentional bias research.

Table of Contents
  Trait Anxiety Scale from the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.
  Emotional Stroop Task.
  Lexical Decision Task.
  Word Rating Task.
 Statistical Analyses
 Investigation of the Stroop Effect Between Threatening and Neutral Words
 Lexical Decision Task Results
 Word Rating Task
 Exploratory Analyses: Anxiety Levels and Emotional Stroop RTs

Correspondence to
Dr Martina Jovev, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, Victoria, Australia 3052.

attentional bias, hypervigilace, Stroop, Lexical Decision

Received 30 Mar 2011; Revised 6 Apr 2012; Accepted 6 Apr 2012; In Press 1 Jul 2012

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