Science University Research Symposium (SURS)

Publication Date

Fall 11-30-2023


Sciences and Mathematics, College of


Psychological Science, Department of

SURS Faculty Advisor

Michael Oliver

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


Cognitive stress affects humans mentally and physically, and specifically may impact emotional recognition. Previous studies have focused on the perceived emotional valence of nouns vs. adjectives and the emotional recognition of photographs. While this has led to the creation of an emotional valence database, there has yet to be a study to explore how stress can change perceived emotional valence. Using data from the Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW), the Portland Arithmetic Stress Test (PAST), and the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a study was created to explore how participants emotional valence of words would change after being placed under cognitive stress. Participants were tasked with assigning emotional valence scores on a 1-9 Likert scale for 21 words within the ANEW database. The participants then took an arithmetic-based cognitive stress task. Following the stress task, the participants ranked 21 more words from the ANEW database on emotion valance with a 1-9 Likert score. The participants’ scores were then analyzed to investigate if their ranking had become more deviated from the ANEW baseline following cognitive stress. The participants had no statistically significant deviation from the mean following the cognitive stress task. Cognitive stress may affect emotional recognition, but in our study the stressor may not have been influential.