Measuring Attention to positive subliminal cues via an emotional Stroop task that suggest a Pre-transcendent Fallacy held by Intimate Couples

Thomas A. Habib, Ph.D. & Christine A. Baser, R.N., Ph.D.


An emotional Stroop task was utilized on 248 women to measure subliminal cues that were equated with the hypothesized pre-trans fallacy. This study was a 2 x 2 design that employed a dual task attention paradigm. There were two IV, 26 stimulus words presented subliminally, and two videos. The stimulus words had 3 levels ranging from romantic (adore), to non-romantic (helpful) to inanimate (door). All the words were lexically balanced and rated by women for category fit. The videos were of equal length and two levels, romantic and non-romantic. The romantic video involved a couple dancing the tango. The non-romantic involved a discussion on cloud formation. The DV is mean response time (RT) in an emotional Stroop task on a millisecond platform. It was hypothesized that both the romantic videos and the subliminally presented words would produce a slowing in RT compared to the other conditions. This was the first known use of an emotional Stroop test measuring powerful positive feelings pertaining to couples. A log-transforming data analyses was utilized. The hypothesized effect was not supported at any level. This may reflect that the hypothesis has no validity or that there is no emotional Stroop effect with positive words.


The early romantic relationship is often characterized by idealized perceptions 1 and intense bodily experiences that easily obscure a more objective assessment of a potential mate. Although this experience is indeed wonderful and clung to with the hope of sustaining this intense feeling this investigation partially tests the proposition that the early romantic relationship plants a pre-transcendent fantasy in the hopes of many. There is evidence of an enduring expectation that love at this level is sustainable (Favero & Marciano, 2014) and there is documented impact of this depiction by popular culture (Hefner and Wilson, 2013). Consequently, Habib (2016) has suggested two widely held fears. First, the perception those other couples indeed get to live at this level of intensity and second the fear of a mistake in partner selection.