# What the Stroop Effect Reveals About Our Minds?

Topics: Stroop Effect

The Stroop effect holds strong evidence towards one’s cognitive ability to distinguish between referencing the colored word, i.e. “BLUE”, that is of a different color than the word statement itself. The Stroop effect also measures the delayed reaction time it takes for someone to separate the colored word from the opposing color it’s characterized in, i.e. “BLUE”. Past research has shown that when measuring the reaction time of a “conventional printed designations of simple characteristics” which is stating that ones have a faster reaction time in naming the color of the word being presented than it would be to name the word or “characteristic” itself in a study (Windes, 1968).

When experimenting in class we measured multiple independent variables to where the numbers were manipulated, or the signs of the mathematical variables were manipulated in the form that you had to list off the amount given in each task. During the experiment, the participants were asked on different occasions to name either the numerical variables, name the number of numerical values, or the mathematical digits that were given in the sequence of the list provided for that task.

When performing the four tasks at hand we measured the dependent variable as the time it took for each of the participants to go through the list of different levels given throughout the experiment. This ranged from simply reading the number list, i.e. (3,4,1,2), to reading the neutral counting digits (+++, +,++), to the conflicting digits of the incongruent counting digits (444 = “3”), and reading the congruent counting digits (333 = “3”) in a certain time frame.

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In the experiment, the control groups that were provided were the neutral naming list, i.e. (1, 2, 3), and the neutral counting list, i.e. (+,++,+++). The manipulated independent variable given was the list of Incongruent Counting digits, i.e. (111, 33, 2222, 4); and the Congruent Counting digits that were considered to be facilitated, i.e. (1, 4444, 333, 22). In performing these tasks some cognitive conflicts do affect the participant’s ability when distinguishing the different tasks given in class. If these cognitive conflicts do hurt one’s attention or cognitive functions when processing the information given, it could influence other factors that could affect the reaction time being measured (Damen, Strick, Taris, & Aarts, 2018). In Kalanthroff and Henik’s study in 2014, they used negative facilitation in their experiment to explore task conflict by combining task switching with a cued Stroop task (Kalanthroff, & Henik, 2014). The results of their experiment correlate to the results in the experiment given in class. This is demonstrated when comparing the performance rates between the two studies, and how switching from task to task there was a slower reaction time when performing the tasks at hand.

The research and results show that with the in-class experiment the one task that had the quickest reaction time among the four tasks was the congruent counting digits at 11.59 seconds. The neutral counting task followed in at a close second, with a time of 12.12 seconds. These times have a great difference when being compared to the neutral naming task following at 17.95 seconds, and the incongruent counting digits task finishing at 25.16 seconds. The data speaks for itself when determining which task took the longest, however, there is another factor in the experiment. One needs to take into consideration to see when each of the lists was given in the study and which one followed suit the other. Stroop himself, in 1935, was the first person to measure and report that people took longer when naming the actual font color itself when the meaning of the word is incongruent with the color that is being expressed (i.e., indicating a “blue” font color when the written word is “RED”) (Stroop,1935). In comparison to a simpler task being given when naming the color of a neutral stimulus, “In most cases, it takes longer to state the colors of the words, rather than to read the text they are printed in, despite the incongruence being essentially the same across both lists (i.e. both show words in the wrong color). It appears we are more influenced by the physical text than the text color” (Wright, 2017).

This goes hand in hand with the experiment that was given in the lecture, as well as when looking at the data set after the neutral and incongruent tasks were both given. When dealing with the reaction time when responding to the neutral naming task, the neutral counting task, the incongruent counting digits task, and the congruent counting digits task, the perceptual and conceptual aspect of the task is taken in many directions when trying to explain why certain tasks have quicker reaction times versus others. Take the Speed of Processing Theory and Selective Attention Theory into consideration when trying to answer that thought.

When connecting the two theories into the experiment, it goes to show that the interference in the speed of processing theory theorizes that inference may occur because the number is easier to read in a quicker time frame than the actual amount of numbers that were given in the incongruent sequence i.e. (4,33,1111,222). It is easier to say 4,3,1,2 versus what the experiment is asking when looking at the sequence, which is “4” =1, “3”=2, “1”=4, and “2”=3. When looking at the Selective Attention Theory, goes on to explain that this interference and time delay occurs because stating the relationship between the number and the sequence series provided does require more attention and time delay when processing the correct information.

In trying to piece together the Stroop Effect and the experiment itself, the overall aspect is that the Stroop Effect manipulates certain conditions given in experiments that are designed to understand and utilize different strategies, and memory formation when in the operation of the task. Keel (1972) argued that “ Selective attention must operate after, rather than before, memory retrieval” (Hintzman et al., 1972). Looking over the data in the experiment shows that once the neutral naming and the neutral counting stimuli were placed into the study, one can see the reaction time difference in comparison to the incongruent counting stimulus. This a had the slower reaction time to the neutral stimuli between counting (i.e. +, ++, +++ as 1,2,3) and naming the list off (i.e. 2, 4, 1, 3), while the reaction time of the congruent counting digits (i.e. 1, 4444, 333, 22) had the quickest reaction time out of all the tasks given in the experiment (Entel, Tzelgov, Bereby-Meyer, & Shahar, 2015). The overall difference when it comes to this experiment and the background of the Stroop Effect is that there is a delay in the time when looking between the incongruent and neutral trials in our class experiment. This is known as the inhibition effect, and that between the neutral and congruent trials is known as the facilitation effect (MacLeod, 1991). The Stroop Effect has many abilities when testing and pushing the limits of one’s attention and cognitive abilities when performing manipulated tasks. The experiment that was facilitated in class explored the Stroop Effect adequately enough to were evaluations of the different tasks were either neutral or manipulated. This affected one’s attentional aspect and abilities to perform a task in a quick time frame and still correctly perform the task.