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The idea of investigating how the human mind perceives colored words is one of those aspects of life that most of us take for granted. In 1935, J. Ridley Stroop performed a series of experiments to examine this phenomenon. In his article, “Studies of Interference in Serial Verbal Reactions” Stroop explained that conflicting color and word stimuli resulted in a phenomenon he described as interference.
Because Stroop’s experiments only demonstrated this effect when participants were asked to name the color of a word with a conflicting meaning stimulus, he determined that the interference was a result of automatic retrieval in reading. My experiment will attempt to replicate the second experiment that Stroop performed during his original study. The aim of this experiment is to determine if automatic retrieval in reading interferes with a participant’s ability to identify the color of the word displayed.
My experiment followed the repeated measures design. I used one group of participants and testeed them in both the experimental and the control condition. Through this method the confounding variable of participant variability was avoided. As the same group experienced the experimental and control variable, any differences must have been a result of the variables and not differences in the participants themselves. A possible disadvantage to the repeated measures design is the order effect, differences exhibited by participants could be due to the order that the experimental and control conditions are presented.
To counterbalance the order effect I separated participants into two randomly selected groups, Group A experienced the control variable first and the experimental variable second, while the Group B was exposed to the experimental design first and the control variable second. It was essential to randomly allocate the participants into their groups to maintain the integrity of the experiment. I flipped a coin to determine if the participant would be in Group A or Group B.
The independent variable in this design was the presence of a conflicting color name in the stimulus. The measured dependent variable was the amount of time it took to identify the color of the stimulus. The control condition provided the participants with twenty blocks of color to verbally identify; their response time was measured in seconds and hundredths of seconds. The experimental condition provided the participants with twenty words with conflicting color names and word colors, for example, the word white written in green ink. The participant’s response time was measured in seconds and hundredths of seconds.
Participant’s response times were recorded under numbers rather than names, in this manner the privacy and confidentiality of the participant was protected. All individuals who wished to participate in the study were required to sign an informed conset form. In order to maintain the single blind aspect of the study the participants were be informed of the true purpose of the experiment before participation, however all participants were debriefed after their participation. Additionally, the participants received a copy of the results of the experiments. The experiment does not involve any physical discomfort, and very minimal mental stress. PARTICIPANTS
The participants in the experiment came from the student body of Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The school is located in a suburban community, and a majority of the population are upper-middle class Caucasian individuals. Hence the results can not be generalized across any demographic group except the one represented by the students. The results of the study were influenced by volunteer bias. Additionally, only the population who were free, at the time the experiment was conducted, were able to participate. Also, all the participants were required to be over the age of sixteen, thus eliminating half of the student population of the high school. Finally, since the test relied upon color recognition those individual with color blindness were unable to participate. Eventually, fifteen individuals participated in the study. Twelve of those fifteen were female. Although there was an unequal gender distribution in the sample group, the experiment does not investigate gender issues. Additionally, since the participants were all high school students, their ages ranged from sixteen to eighteen.
I felt that it was essential for me to understand the experiment which I was replicating. Obtaining the original article which Stroop published in Journal of Experimental Psychology was invaluable. In order to create my own materials, I relied upon the experimental methodology literature provided in my texts as well as my background research. Essentially, I created methods analogous to those used by Stroop in the second of his three experiments. In order to garner volunteers for my experiment, we placed an invitation the morning announcements. Additionally, my psychology teacher requested students in her other classes to participate in the experiment. I conducted the experiment upon an individual basis. I requested that all participants remain outside the room and called in each participant one at a time. Before they entered the room, I flipped a coin to determine if they were to be in Group A or Group B.
Upon entering, I asked them to take a seat, read the informed consent statement, and sign it if they agreed to all the conditions. Then I read the introductory portion of my standardized instructions. I then gave the participant either Sheet A or B, depending on which group they were in. As the participant verbally identified the color of the stimulus, I visually checked their answers with a previously prepared key. I then read the second portion of the instructions to them, and handed them the other sheet. Again, as the participant verbally identified the color of the stimulus, I visually checked their answers with a previously prepared key. Finally, I debriefed the participants with the standard debriefing statement.