Examination of emotional Stroop interference in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Steffen Moritz*, Dirk Jacobsen, Martin Kloss, Susanne Fricke, Michael Rufer, Iver Hand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has produced conflicting findings on whether or not patients with subclinical or manifest obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) share an attentional bias for anxiety-related material. In the present study, 35 OCD patients were compared with 20 healthy controls on their performance in an emotional Stroop paradigm. Nine different stimulus conditions were compiled, including sets for depression-related and anxiety-related words as well as stimuli from two constructs with a potential relevance for the pathogenesis and maintenance of OCD symptomatology: responsibility and conscientiousness. Patients did not show enhanced interference for any of the conditions. Syndrome subtype and severity, avoidance and speed of information processing did not moderate results. The present study concurs with most prior research that OCD patients display no interference effect for general threat words. It deserves further consideration, that emotional interference effects in OCD as seen in other anxiety disorders occur when using idiosyncratic word material with a direct relation to the individual's primary concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-682
Number of pages12
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional Stroop
  • Mood congruency
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder


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