Distinguishing voluntary from involuntary attention to emotion

Shanshan Huang, Howard Berenbaum, Philip I. Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored whether voluntary attention to emotion is distinguishable from involuntary attention to emotion. University students ( N= 166) completed self-report questionnaires, designed for this study, intended to measure voluntary and involuntary attention to one's own emotions. Moreover, participants completed questionnaires measuring other emotional constructs and distress. Finally, participants completed a dot probe task intended to obtain a behavioral measure of voluntary attention to emotion. Affect intensity was positively correlated with both voluntary and involuntary attention to emotion. As expected, dot probe emotional bias scores were associated with self-reported voluntary attention to emotion, but not with involuntary attention to emotion. Voluntary and involuntary attention to emotion were also differentially associated with clarity of emotion, anhedonic depression, and worry. The results of this study suggest it is important to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary attention to one's own emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-898
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Attention to emotion
  • Depression
  • Emotion
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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