Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Faculty Advisor

Leamarie Gordon


Cognitive functioning, Trier Social Stress Test, Stroop Task


Exposure to stress can negatively impact cognitive functions. The effects can depend on one’s health behaviors and mental health status. Participants in this study completed various surveys asking about their mental health status, their physical activity level, and other important information such as whether or not they take part in mindful meditation practices. In addition, they were randomly separated in two groups: a stress group who experienced the stressful version of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST; Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993), and a control group who experienced a non-stressful version of TSST. Participants then completed a Stroop task on a computer program, where the participants were asked to say the color of the word, rather than the word itself (Stroop, 1935). The participants’ reaction time and number of errors made were recorded. It was found that participants in the stress group reported higher levels of state anxiety and state depression than participants in the control group, as well as increased heart rate following the TSST. While previous studies have shown that when presented with threat words on the Stroop task, anxious participants are more likely to have a slower reaction time and have an increased amount of errors, participants in the present study’s stress group did not exhibit this pattern of behavior.

Included in

Psychology Commons