The Stroop effect: experience it by yourself

In the book that I’m currently reading (“Chronometric explorations of mind” by Micheal Posner) I read about the Stroop task and I thought about sharing here what is the task together with a few thoughts.

For those who don’t know, the Stroop task is a classic psychology experiment with a great piece of supporting evidence starting from 1935 (almost 100 years ago) by the investigator J. Ridley Stroop. The task consists of the following: Imagine that the word blue is presented in green ink and you must tell aloud the name of ink color (green) avoiding the color name (blue). You can play a demo experiment in Psytoolkit if you want to familiarize yourself with the task.

A given trial of the Stroop task. You need to name aloud the ink color (green) and avoid saying the printed word (blue). From Psytoolkit.

The Stroop effect relies on the difficulty of avoiding reading the color name and name aloud to the ink color and, thus, the effect arises because of response competition between vocal responses to the printed word and the ink color. Consider that from one side you want to tell aloud the printed word (blue) and from the other side the ink word (green). The idea here is that if the printed word matches the ink word (blue-blue) you’ll react faster than if the printed and ink word mismatches (blue-green).

The Stroop effect is a piece of concrete evidence that we cannot always choose to avoid processing aspects of an input item that we desire to ignore. Curiously, we read words faster than we can name colors. Why does this happen? You can read more about it here.


Feature image from Pexels – C0 license.

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