Experiment into the impact of automatic processing on identifying ink colour on colour related and colour neutral words Abstract
It has been proposed that automatic processing, unlike controlled processing, has a lower cost on the resource pool which is beneficial when process several channels of information. This could however have a cost on completion of some tasks because overlearned actions by their nature are difficult to cognitively control. This quantitative study focuses on whether automatic processing relating to overlearned actions can interfere with correctly identifying the colour ink of a printed word. The results showed that naming the ink colour took longer when the word was colour related. Introduction
It has been postulated by various eminent psychologists that although we are bombarded with a mass of data not all of this information can be processed. Instead salient information is selected and processed, cognitive psychologists term this as attention. Kahneman (as cited in Edgar, 2007) discussed this limitation and postulated there was a central processor which managed information flow but its limited capacity reduced the level processed – this he termed as the limited-capacity processor. This limited capacity view suggests that there should be difficulty in completing multiple tasks simultaneously. Posner and Boles (as cited in Edgar, 2007) dual task study supports this view, participants responses taking longer when auditory and visual stimuli are presented simultaneously. Subsequent research (as cited in Edgar, 2007) showed that any interference can be reduced dependent on the resources required by altering one of the required responses from pressing a button to a vocal response. Indicating that there is not a single pool of resources and that interference is due to the stimuli. With a limited capacity and difficulty processing simultaneous stimuli some level of selection of information must be required but it is important to isolate at what point the selection occurs. When looking at the selecting or filtering of information it seems natural to discuss Broadbent’s bottleneck theory of attention (as cited in Broadbent, 1958). Broadbent proposed that incoming information is filtered out early based on physical characteristics, thus suggesting the majority of received information is not consciously processed. In the aforementioned procedure Broadbent discovered participants were able to recall information (sets of numbers) simultaneously presented to each ear easier from one side and then the other than recalling in pairs. However if only the selected information is processed early it does not necessarily mean that no other information is retained. Treisman (as cited in Treisman, 1964) as early as the 1960’s showed that attention might be switched in what was termed the ‘Cocktail Party’ effect. Treisman proposed that the processing of information was not limited, that other information is retained but only processed to a limited extent. This view opposed that of Broadbent’s as it showed that if the content of the information was meaningful then attention could be shifted. The ability to process other information and then cognitively decide if it is meaningful seems at odds with the idea of a limited pool or set of resources. The emergence of the Schneider and Shiffrin studies (as cited in Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977) offers a possible explanation in that processes were branched and while we can consciously control some processes others are automatic. The automatic processes to which they refer have a lesser impact on the resource pool as they are overlearned, meaning they are repeated or practiced over time. As this sentence is read an automatic process could be considered to be in action, we may be taught to read but this becomes an automatic action after much practice. However while relinquishing control over a process and allowing an automatic process to step in has obvious benefits there can be...
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