Time course of processing emotional stimuli as a function of perceived emotional intelligence, anxiety, and depression

Joscelyn E. Fisher, Sarah M. Sass, Wendy Heller, Rebecca Levin Silton, J. Christopher Edgar, Jennifer L. Stewart, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An individual's self-reported abilities to attend to, understand, and reinterpret emotional situations or events have been associated with anxiety and depression, but it is unclear how these abilities affect the processing of emotional stimuli, especially in individuals with these symptoms. The present study recorded event-related brain potentials while individuals reporting features of anxiety and depression completed an emotion-word Stroop task. Results indicated that anxious apprehension, anxious arousal, and depression were associated with self-reported emotion abilities, consistent with prior literature. In addition, lower anxious apprehension and greater reported emotional clarity were related to slower processing of negative stimuli indexed by event-related potentials (ERPs). Higher anxious arousal and reported attention to emotion were associated with ERP evidence of early attention to all stimuli regardless of emotional content. Reduced later engagement with stimuli was also associated with anxious arousal and with clarity of emotions. Depression was not differentially associated with any emotion processing stage indexed by ERPs. Research in this area may lead to the development of therapies that focus on minimization of anxiety to foster successful emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-497
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ERPs
  • Emotional Stroop
  • Perceived emotional intelligence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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