Positive mood and executive function. evidence from stroop and fluency tasks

Louise H. Phillips*, Rebecca Bull, Ewan Adams, Lisa Fraser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

203 Citations (Scopus)


Contrasting predictions have been made about the effects of positive mood states on the performance of frontal lobe tests that tap executive functions such as inhibition, switching, and strategy use. It has been argued that positive mood is likely to improve some cognitive processes, particularly those dependent on the frontal cortex and anterior cingulate of the brain. However, there is some evidence that happy mood may impair executive functioning. The current experiments investigated the effects of positive mood on Stroop and fluency tests, which are frequently used to assess executive function. Positive mood impaired performance on a switching condition of the Stroop test, but improved performance on a creative uses test of fluency. The effect of positive mood on an executive task may therefore depend on whether a task is inherently motivating or is impaired by diffuse semantic activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

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