The aim of this experiment is to study autonomic processes by replicating the previously carried out Stroop effect by using numbers. A number of 180 random participants aged in between 18-89 were recruited to participate in this experiment. Participants were presented with a stroop experiment task sheet which consists of three parts which was the control, congruent and incongruent conditions. Time was taken and recorded for each participant to say out the number of stars in the control condition and to say out the number of numbers in the congruent and incongruent conditions. Based on the results, participants took a considerably longer time to say the number of number in the incongruent condition than in the congruent condition. This corresponds to the earlier research carried out by Stroop. Therefore, it can be said that the powerfully autonomic nature of reading words is as same as reading numbers, as it is such a well-learned automatic activity it does interfere with the task.
The Stroop Effect and the Automatic Processes
The Stroop effect was first described in 1935 by the scientist whose name it now bears. Generally, the Stroop effect refers to the complexity observers have in removing meaningful but conflicting information from a task, even when that information is immaterial or counterproductive in that task. The Stroop effect can be seen as interference, that is, when one mental operation degrades the performance of another. Attention is a system, which allows us to select and process certain significant incoming information. Selective attention refers to the ability to focus on one task at a time whilst excluding any eternal stimuli, which may be distracting. Whereas divided attention refers to the ability to divide ones attention between two or more tasks. If one of these tasks becomes an automatic process it becomes easier to divide ones attention between these two tasks. However, sometimes rather than being helpful, interference can occur between the controlled process and the automatic process (Tzelgov, 1999). Psychologists have frequently found that the powerfully autonomic nature of reading words or in this case numbers, as it is such a well-learned automatic activity can interfere with other tasks. This idea has been researched by a number of researchers. Kahneman (1973) devised a model of divided attention, which was based around the idea of mental effort. He proposed that some tasks might be relatively autonomic, so make fewer demands in terms of mental effort, such as a reading task. Several activities can be carried out at the same time, provided that their total effort does not exceed the available capacity. So usually an autonomic task will not require much mental effort and so often can be carried out automatically. (Kahneman, 1973) In an experiment done by Stroop (1935), he carried out an investigation into autonomic processing, by inventing the stroop effect. In this, he instructed participants to read a list of color words written in black ink. This, evidently a very simple task was easy for the participants to carry out. Following this, participants were asked to read a list of color words written in conflicting colored inks, for example, the word “red” written in blue color ink and to call out the color ink the words were written in. Although this task seems very simple at first and is only matter of simple color recognition, Stroop found that it took the participants considerably longer to complete this task then the previous. This is because, the powerful autonomic or the unconscious nature of reading words meant that participants automatically wanted to read the words rather than the color ink they were written in. So, even though the participants did not often read the color word out loud, there was a time delay while the participants thought of the correct response which was the color ink (Stroop, 1935). This Stroop effect can also be found when the participants...
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