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The Stroop Test (Psychology Paper Example)

Stroop test denotes the experimental aspects of looking into factors encompassing the stroop effect. The sroop effect has been a widely studied aspect with many researches publishing articles that attempt to explain the phenomenon. It has been a subject of intense lobbying with many referring to it as the likelihood of people naming the colors by which words are shown at slower rate than the letters in respective color names. Means of examining this aspect would involve use of participants who will be made to associate different labels to some words and then examining the stroop interference that is induced for the various labels. This issue continues to captivate the interest of psychologists.


An issue first heard of in the year 1935, the this effect came first into limelight when it was published by John R. Stroop who referred to it as the hardness that people who are observing have in separating information that are of meaning but conflicting from a task regardless of whether it is irrelevant or relevant to the task at hand. Stroop effect can either be manifested as interference or facilitation. Interference will be characterized, when one mental operation degrades the performance of another, while facilitation is denoted when one mental operation stimulates the performance of another.

This task has now emerged as one of the best known paradigms in cognitive psychology and one of the most employed contribution to clinical psychology. It is rather extraordinary that a paradigm of such apparent simplicity has flourished as the discipline has grown and become more complex. Stroop effect can trace its lineage directly to the origins of experimental psychology. Cartel (1886) in his dissertation that was done under the supervision of Wundt, made a critical evaluation by using measurement of time response to naming various stimuli where he affirmed that it took considerable period of time to name objects and their properties than it took to naming of the specific terms.

Literature review

Being among one of the major studied paradigms in psychology, the classic Stroop effect has more than 2,500 studies arising right from the works of John R. Stroop (1935). Several proposals have arose to attempt to explain the Stroop effect. This include factor such as the processing speed of information pertaining to linguistics with reference to perceptual information (Schooler et al., 1997), the automaticity of processing linguistic information (Logan et al.1980), and connectionist modeling (Dunbar et al., 1990). A central component in these accounts being a conflict between the acquired data resources from the component of linguistic of a stimulus and its component perceptualisation (MacLeod, 1991). This conflict can’t explain the results in the emotional Stroop task.

In the emotional Stroop task, participants receive colored words, such that the meaning of the words has some emotional salience for the participants. For example, alcohol abusers will see words related to alcohol (as well as neutral words), anxious participants will see words related to their anxiety, etc. Interference in such versions of the Stroop task has been widely documented. For instance, according to Bauer et al. (2004) alcohol abusers will take longer to name the color of words that are related to alcohol, compared to words that are neutral, smokers will likewise be distracted by smoking-related words (Hogarth et al., 2003), and individuals who restrict their food intake by food-related stimuli (Tapper et al., 2008). A key point is that a theoretical explanation for the various version of the emotional Stroop task has to be different from an explanation for the classic Stroop task (Algom 2009).

Methodology and Expected Results

Experimental hypothesis will relate to Stroop interference for a single or several labels with the assumption that associations with the real words have been highly learned. Accordingly rates of errors at training session would be added for both the single and several labels of associations. This aggregate error rate would range from 0% to 97.91%. Additionally where there will be testing irregularities such as noise from building, ringing mobile phones,
Participants involved would be done away with. The major variables that were dependent were interference on Stroop interference for a single label and the interference on Stroop for several labels.

Various researchers have over the years devised models and hypothesis that can be used to describe the Stroop effect with various test being undertaken to prove it. Such are like:

Automaticity Model

This model shows that this effects also extends to words color related like fire and sky; but is not limited to non-words that which sound like the color related words. In short the difficulty of removing the interference effect of the Stroop task has led some researchers to claim that the brain is wired to recognize words without effort. With this explanation being defined as automaticity hypothesis or automatic word recognition hypothesis. This hypothesis is so accepted far and wide that it is often used in textbooks of psychology as the definite Stroop effect answer. This theory alludes to fact that the process of reading is automatic and can’t be diffused. But naming of colors isn’t automatic and need more efforts creating the aspect of interference.

Processing Speed Model

This hypothesis suggests that the processing of word happens more quickly than color. Processing .Therefore in scenario involving concurrency between words and colors, information on word reaches the processing of decisions stage earlier than the information on color and leads to confusion in processing. But information on color drags behind word information and decision can be made prior to the arrival of information on conflicting colors when the task involves reporting of words.

Parallel Distributed Processing Model

This model alludes that various tasks will conform to various pathways of processing and practice, as well as biological wiring creating strengths in pathways. Consequently speed is not the major focus of interest but strength. Degree of automaticity is a function of the strength of each pathway which means that if two pathways are active simultaneously and the path that leads to the response is stronger (naming words), no interference will occur. But when the pathways are active at the same time and the one that is leading to the response is weak (word color naming) it will lead into interference.

Understanding on development of automatic behavior offers promising direction for future research and research on effect of Stroop has the capability of adding onto the present stalemate on the emotional Stroop effect as well as challenging present theories of automaticity and circumstances that would result to associations that are automatic (Logan, 1980).