Investigating the Stroop Effect


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Introduction:

When a behavior or skill seems to no longer require direct
interaction, cognitive psychologists say it is automatized. Many
behaviors can become automatized: typing, reading, writing, bicycling,
piano playing, driving, etc. Automatization is interesting because it
is an important part of daily life. We perform a variety of
automatized behaviors quickly and effortlessly. In some cases people
report that they do not consciously know how the behavior is
performed, they just will it to happen, and it does happen. To explore
properties of automatized behaviors cognitive psychologists often put
observers in a situation where an automatized response is in conflict
with the desired behavior. This allows researchers to test the
behind-the-scenes properties of automatized behaviors by noting their
influence on more easily measured behaviors. This demonstration
explores a well-known example of this type of influence, the Stroop
effect.

Stroop (1935) noted that observers were slower to properly identify
the color of ink when the ink was used to produce color names
different from the ink. That is, observers were slower to identify red
ink when it spelled the word blue. This is an interesting finding
because observers are told to not pay any attention to the word names
and simply report the color of the ink. However, this seems to be a
nearly impossible task, as the name of the word seems to interfere
with the observer's ability to report the color of the ink.

A common explanation for the Stroop effect is that observers have
automatized the process of reading. Thus, the color names of the words
are always processed very quickly, regardless of the color of the ink.
On the other hand, identifying colors is not a task that observers
have to report on very often, and because it is not automatized it is
slower. The fast and automatic processing of the color name of the
word interferes with the reporting of the ink color.
The Stroop task, and its many variations, are a commonly used tool in
cognitive psychology to explore how different types of behaviors

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interact. The experiment uses a Stroop experiment, found on the
internet, to investigate the properties of automization.

Design:

Independent Variable: The time it takes to complete a single test.

Dependent Variable: The information on the screen.

Participant Selection: Participants were 10 students, studying A2
level Psychology, picked by Opportunity Sampling.

Extraneous Variables:

Null Hypothesis: There will be no relationship between the results of
matchings and different images.

Alternative Hypothesis: There will be a relationship between the
results – second set will take longer.

Procedure:

A ten-word sample was read by the participants before the first
reading of each test. The instructions were to read as quickly as
possible and to leave no errors uncorrected. The students did the test
in their own time, using computers and the website
www.faculty.washington.edu/chudler/words.html where they read the
instructions and followed the prompts to interactive Stroop
experiment. The stroop experiment consisted of the first set of words,
written in the colour same as their meaning, ie black written in
black, and the second set, where the words’ meanings were different to
the colour they were written in. The instructions were to say the
colour of the ink that each word was written in, and record the time
it takes to complete one list. The times it took were then recorded
and Wilcoxon test used to test the difference and whether the results
occurred by chance at 5% significance level.

Discussion

The results do support the Psychological research, conducted by
Stroop. The observers have automatized the process of reading. Thus,
the color names of the words are always processed very quickly,
regardless of the color of the ink. On the other hand, identifying
colors is not a task that observers have to report on very often, and
because it is not automatized it is slower. The fast and automatic
processing of the color name of the word interferes with the reporting
of the ink color

The difference in time for naming colors and reading color names has
been variously explained. Cattell (1886) and Lund (1927) have
attributed the difference to 'practice.' Woodworth and Wells (1911, p.
52) have suggested that, "The real mechanism here may very well be the
mutual interference of the five names, all of which, from immediately
preceding use, are 'on the tip of the tongue,' all are equally ready
and likely to get in one another's way." Brown (1915, p. 51) concluded
"that the difference in speed between color naming and word reading
does not depend upon practice" but that (p. 34) "the association
process in naming simple objects like colors is radically different
from the association process in reading printed words."

Garrett and Lemmon (1924, p. 438) have accounted for their findings in
these words, "Hence it seems reasonable to say that interferences
which arise in naming colors are due not so much to an equal readiness
of the color names as to an equal readiness of the color recognitive
processes. Another factor present in interference is very probably the
present strength of the associations between colors and their names,
already determined by past use." Peterson (1918 and 1925) has
attributed the difference to the fact that, "One particular response
habit has become associated with each word while in the case of colors
themselves a variety of response tendencies have developed."


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