Recent studies show that emotional stimuli impair the identification of subsequently presented, briefly flashed stimuli. In the present study, we investigated whether emotional distractors (primes) impaired target processing when presentation of the target stimulus was not impoverished. In lexical decision, animacy decision, rhyme decision, and nonword naming, targets were presented in such a manner that they were clearly visible (i.e., targets were not masked and presented until participants responded). In all tasks taboo-sexual distractors caused a slowdown in responding to the subsequent neutral target. Our results indicate that the detrimental effects of emotional distractors are not confined to paradigms in which visibility of the target is limited. Moreover, impairments were obtained even when semantic processing of stimuli was not required.

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Experimental Psychology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Zeelenberg, R., Bocanegra, B., & Pecher, D. (2011). Emotion-induced impairments in speeded word recognition tasks. Experimental Psychology, 58(5), 400–411. doi:10.1027/1618-3169/a000109