stroop effect introduction and theories

Topics: John Ridley Stroop, Stroop effect, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! Pages: 11 (3925 words) Published: August 22, 2014

When the words ‘red, green, yellow and blue’ printed in coloured inks but in incongruent combinations of colour and word e.g. the word ‘red’ printed in colour yellow, the word yellow in the colour blue and so on and the Ss are required to name the colours as quickly as they can, ignoring the words, it is not easy to do so. Invariably, the colours are hard to name than when they are shown in simple strips uncomplicated by the words. Typically volume of voice goes up; reading falters; now and then the words break through abortively and there are embarrassed giggles. These and other signs of strain and effort are common. This phenomenon was first noticed by Janesch and was first reported in this century by John Ridley Stroop (1935).

In 1955, Stroop published his landmark article on attention and interference. The task given came to be known as the Stroop Task and is seen as tapping in to the primitive operations of cognition, offering clues to the fundamental process of attention. He found that people required an average of 110 seconds to name the ink colour of 100 words that were incongruent colour names, as against 63.3 seconds to name the ink colour of 100 solid colour squares.


The roots of Stroop’s research are evident 50 yrs earlier in the work of James McKeen Catell (1886). He reported that objects and colours took longer to name them than corresponding words to read. This is because, in the case of words and letters, the association between the idea and name has taken place so often that the process has become automatic, whereas in the case of colours and pictures, we must by voluntary effort choose the name.

Catell’s studies were replicated by Hollingsworth, Brown and Rigen. Hollingworth (1912, 1915, and 1923) suggested that word reading required only articulation, but that colour naming demanded articulation plus association. Brown (1915) and Ligon (1932) maintained that both tasks involved two processes but with different association element for each test. Garret and Lemmon (1924) held that colour naming was longer because of an interference factor. Peterson, Lanier and Walker (1925) suggested that many responses might be conditioned to a single colour, but only one response was conditioned to a single word.

It was Stroop who thought of combining words and colours (1935). Stroop was concerned with how best to explain interference. Stroop had been engaged in studies of colour naming versus word reading and hit upon the idea of a compound stimulus where the word was incongruent with ink colour. His two main questions were - what effect each dimension of the compound stimulus would have on trying to name the other dimension and what effect practice would have on the observed interference. Stroop himself studied it with a series of three experiments:

In the first experiment, he examined the effect of incompatible ink colour on reading words aloud. In the second experiment, the task was switched to naming the colours aloud. He observed that the Ss averaged 47 seconds to name the ink colours of incongruent words than solid colour squares. In the third experiment, he observed the effect of practice on colour naming tasks and found that it reduced time significantly.

Ever since, there has been a lot of research on the Stroop Effect, These research studies can be broadly classified into five sections –
1. Variations of the Stroop procedure.
2. Manipulation of information on critical trials.
3. Experiment-wide manipulations of information.
4. Response-related manipulations.
5. Individual differences.

1. Variations of the Stroop procedure:

The standard Stroop colour- word test involves naming the colours of incompatible words and colour patches. Interference is expressed as the difference between the times on these two types of tasks.

Many investigators have altered this basic procedure. Rather than naming or reading the stimuli aloud, The Ss are...
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