Flexibility Using the Stroop Test While Monitoring Heart Rate, Respiration Rate, and Electrodermal Activity Levels
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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The purpose of this experiment was to examine the changes in cognitive flexibility that arose from physiological changes in the body caused by emotion. In 30 subjects, either happiness or fear was induced in the subject while their heart rate, respiration rate, and electrodermal activity were measured. Cognitive flexibility was tested using the Stroop test by measuring reaction time. We hypothesized that fear would lead to faster reaction times while happiness would lead to slower reaction times. T-tests showed a significant decrease in reaction time for incongruent and congruent fear Stroop tests (p=0.00287 and p=0.00166 respectively) and also for congruent happy Stroop tests (p=0.00566). This supports our hypothesis that fear leads to a faster reaction time and better cognitive flexibility, however happiness also showed increased cognitive flexibility. Overall it seemed that fear was a stronger emotion, inducing a greater physiological and cognitive change. While improved reaction times may be a sign of increased cognitive flexibility, this does not necessarily imply that accuracy or best judgment is used while in a fear state. There is definitely a tie between emotion and cognitive ability which should be further explored in other contexts.