Emotional interference during conflict resolution depends on task context

Saz Ahmed, Catherine Sebastian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence is currently mixed regarding the way in which cognitive conflict modulates the effect of emotion on task performance. The present study aimed to address methodological differences across previous studies and investigate the conditions under which interference from emotional stimuli can either be elicited or eliminated under high cognitive conflict. Four behavioural experiments were conducted with a university sample using a gender-discrimination stimulus-response compatibility task. In line with our previous findings, Experiment 1 found that when emotion and cognitive conflict conditions were blocked, emotional faces increased reaction time interference during response compatible trials (low conflict) but not response incompatible trials (high conflict). However, when conflict and emotion conditions were randomised in different configurations across Experiments 2 (all trials randomised), 3 (emotion blocked, compatibility randomised) and 4 (compatibility blocked, emotion randomised), emotion interfered with task performance across both high and low conflict trials. These results suggest that predictability of both compatibility and emotion is required in order to obtain reduced emotional interference under high cognitive conflict. Consistent with prior reports, a top-down anticipatory control mechanism seems to be engaged in the presence of negative emotion when there are incompatible stimulus-response mappings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalCognition and Emotion
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2019

Cite this