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The Stroop Effect

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Hannah Burns

on 5 November 2013

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Transcript of The Stroop Effect

The Stroop Effect
Try this: Look at the image below and say aloud the color of each word. Do not read the words! Just say what color they are.
Was it more difficult that you expected? In this demonstration, you experienced what is known as the
Stroop Effect.
In psychology, the Stroop Effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., "blue," "green," or "red") is printed in a color not denoted by the name (e.g., the word "red" printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more prone to errors than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. [2]

The Stroop Effect is named after John Ridley Stroop, who published the effect in English in 1935 in an article entitled "Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions" that includes three different experiments. However, the effect was first published in 1929 in Germany, and its roots can be followed back to works of James McKeen Cattell and Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt in the nineteenth century. [2]
In his experiments, Stroop administered several variations of the same test for which three different kinds of stimuli were created. In the first one, names of colors appeared in black ink. In the second, names of colors appeared in a different ink than the color named. Finally in the third one, there were squares of a given color.
In the first experiment, 1 and 2 were used (see first figure). The task required the participants to read the written color names of the words independently of the color of the ink (for example, they would have to read "purple" no matter what the color of its ink was). In the second experiment, stimulus 2 and 3 were used, and participants were required to say the color of the letters independently of the written word with the second kind of stimulus and also name the color of the dot squares. If the word "purple" was written in red, they would have to say "red", but not "purple"; when the squares were shown, the participant would have to say its color. Stroop, in the third experiment, tested his participants at different stages of practice at the tasks and stimulus used in the first and second experiments, to account for the effects of association.
Stroop noted that participants took much longer to complete the color reading in the second task than they had taken to name the colors of the squares in Experiment 2. This delay had not appeared in the first experiment. Such interference was explained by the automation of reading, where the mind automatically determines the semantic meaning of the word (it reads the word "red" and thinks of the color "red"), and then must intentionally check itself and identify instead the color of the word (the ink is a color other than red), a process that is not automatized.
Unlike researchers performing the Stroop test that is most commonly used in psychological evaluation, J.R Stroop never compares the time used for reading black words and the time needed for naming colors that conflicted with the written word. [2]
The words themselves have a strong influence over your ability to say the color. The interference between the different information (what the words say and the color of the words) your brain receives causes a problem. [3]

There are two main theories used to explain the Stroop effect, but no one final explanation. The theories are:
Speed of processing theory: the brain reads words faster than it recognizes colors, so there's a lag while the brain recognizes the color.
Selective attention theory: the brain needs to use more attention to recognize a color than to read a word, so it takes a little longer.[4]
Effects on Gender on the Stroop Effect
In an experiment conducted at the University of Main, a difference in Stroop Task performance by sex was examined. This test examined both time and accuracy. They also preformed the test twice to record the differences practice made. The test was preformed on 20 People (12 males, 8 females). It resulted in the following conclusions:

Females were faster taking the test, and had better accuracy
Females dropped more time between trial 1&2 during the experiment, which could either show patience with the first test or competitiveness. [6]

Color–object interference in young children: A Stroop effect in children 3½–6½ years old
The Stroop color–word task cannot be administered to children who are unable to read. However, our color–object Stroop task can. One hundred and sixty-eight children of 3½–6½ years (50% female; 24 children at each 6-month interval) were shown line drawings of familiar objects in a color that was congruent (e.g., an orange carrot), incongruent (e.g., a green carrot), or neutral (for objects having no canonical color [e.g., a red book]), and abstract shapes, each drawn in one of six colors. Half the children were asked to name the color in which each object was drawn, and half were to name each object. Children’s predominant tendency was to say what the object was; when instructed to do otherwise they were slower and less accurate. Children were faster and more accurate at naming the color of a stimulus when the form could not be named (abstract shape) than when it could, even if in its canonical color. The heightened interference to color-naming versus object-naming was not due to lack of familiarity with color names or group differences: Children in the color condition were as fast and accurate at naming the colors of abstract shapes as were children in the form condition at naming familiar objects. [8]
Uses of the Stroop Effect
Psychologists have found many uses for the Shroop Effect Test. It may be used as part of the assessment process when conducting an evaluation to determine if someone has mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia.
The Stroop test is considered by some to be an effective measure of executive functioning, the ability to plan, apply knowledge and make decisions. Executive functioning, along with short term memory impairment, is often one of the symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Older adults who do not have any cognitive impairment have, on average, a slower response time than younger and middle-age adults, but they typically answer the questions correctly.
People with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s or another dementia, on the other hand, will be slower in answering but also have a significantly higher rate of incorrect answers because of their decline in processing information and the inability to ignore one stimulus (the word) while focusing on the one (the color).
The Stroop Test has been associated with impairment specifically in the prefrontal cortices of the brain, especially in earlier stages of Alzheimer’s. As Alzheimer’s progresses into the middle and late stages, the Stroop effect is not a valid indicator of the location or extent of impairment in the brain. [9]
Current research on the Stroop effect emphasizes the interference that automatic processing of words has on the more mentally effortful task of just naming the ink color. The task of making an appropriate response - when given two conflicting signals - has tentatively been located in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. This is a region that lies between the right and left halves of the frontal portion of the brain. It is involved in a wide range of cognitive processes.
Although the functions of the anterior cingulate are very complex, broadly speaking it acts as a conduit between lower, somewhat more impulse-driven brain regions and higher, somewhat more thought-driven behaviors. The Stroop effect's sensitivity to changes in brain function may be related to its association with the anterior cingulate. [5]
Work Cited
1."The Stroop Effect" http://psychology.about.com/library/bl-stroopeffect.htm (Accessed on October 18th, 2013)
2. "STUDIES OF INTERFERENCE IN SERIAL VERBAL REACTIONS" http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Stroop/ (accessed on October 18, 2013)
3. "Neuroscience For Kids: Colors, Colors" http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/words.html (Accessed on October 18th, 2013)
4. "What Is the Stroop Effect?" http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-stroop-effect.htm (Accessed on October 18, 2013)
A TOOL FOR NAVIGATING URGENT TRANSITIONS." http://www.snre.umich.edu/eplab/demos/st0/stroopdesc.html (accessed on October 18th, 2013)
6. "Speed, Accuracy and Competitiveness: Stroop Effect on Sex" http://umaine.edu/ub/files/2011/12/Mark-Smith-Poster-2012.pdf (accessed on October 18th, 2013)
7. "Color–object interference in young children: A Stroop effect in children 3½–6½ years old" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2134842/ (accessed on October 18th, 2013)
8. "What Is the Stroop Test and How Is it Used to Screen for Early Alzheimer's?" http://alzheimers.about.com/od/testsandprocedures/a/What-Is-The-Stroop-Test-And-How-Is-It-Used-To-Screen-For-Early-Alzheimers.htm (accessed on October 18th, 2013)
10. Goggle Images
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