Stroop Effect Report

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  • Topic: Perception, Stroop effect, John Ridley Stroop
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Published version: Nearly forthcoming in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review The Reverse Stroop Effect
Frank H. Durgin
Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College
Send correspondence and requests to: Frank H. Durgin
Department of Psychology
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
phone: (610) 328-8678
fax: (610) 328-7814
In classic Stroop interference, manual or oral identification of sensory colors presented as incongruent color words is delayed relative to simple color naming. In the experiment reported here, this effect was shown to all but disappear when the response was simply to point to a matching patch of color. Conversely, strong Reverse Stroop interference occurred with the pointing task. That is, when the sensory color of a color word was incongruent with that word, responses to color words were delayed by an average of 69 msec relative to a word presented in gray. Thus, incongruently-colored words interfere strongly with pointing to a color patch named by the words, but little interference from incongruent color words is found when the goal is to match the color of the word. These results suggest that Stroop effects arise from response compatibility of irrelevant information rather than automatic processing or habit strength. [pic]

The Reverse Stroop Effect
The Stroop Effect is one of the easiest and most powerful effects to demonstrate in a classroom, but not the easiest to explain. Nearly every Introductory Psychology book provides a demonstration of the phenomenon: that it is difficult to name the ink color in which different color words are printed. But what is the proper explanation? Perhaps the weakest hypothesis concerning Stroop interference is that "words are processed faster than are colors." It is true that reading words is faster than naming colors, but this seems to be a matter of response compatibility, rather then perceptual speed. After all, the words require no translation (Virzi & Egeth, 1985). In trying to emphasize that the interference effect depends on greater response compatibility between printed and spoken words, however, one risks suggesting the automaticity account (see Besner, Stolz, & Boutilier, 1997, for a recent critique) which suggests that color words interfere with color naming because they are automatically processed. The present experiment was designed to put both the speed theory and the automaticity theory to rest, if only for a little while, by using the simple non-verbal response of pointing to the appropriate color in a visual array. This will be shown to completely reverse the direction of interference, and thus to produce a Reverse Stroop effect where sensory colors interfere with identifying color words. No one thinks pointing to colors is automatic, although, like naming, pointing can be construed as a simple deictic act (literally, indexical). Nonetheless, the perceptual grouping of matched colors in an array (target and response) seems so likely to be a sufficient guide for pointing (just as the printed word maps easily to the internal array of possible verbal responses), that the symmetry of this task with the traditional task seems quite good. Here, it can be argued, the response is suited to the sensory information, rather than to the verbal. In the traditional Stroop effect (Stroop, 1935; see MacLeod, 1991 for a review), naming the print color of a word is delayed if the word itself is a color word which names a different color (e.g., responding "red" to the word "blue" displayed in red letters is slower than responding "red" to a red patch of color). Conversely, very little reverse Stroop interference is found when reading a color-word printed in a conflicting color (i.e., responding "blue" in the above example). One promising account of Stroop interference supposes that it is due to response competition,...
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