Stroop Effect Theories.html
Stroop Effect Theories
In the Stroop effect experiment, participants view words such as “red,” “green,” and “blue” appearing one at a time on the screen, and they need to identify the font color. The font color may or may not match the word appearing on the screen. Finally, the reaction times of participants are measured.
Theory of Automatic Processing
The most common explanation is based on automatic processing. For literate adults, reading takes place effortlessly—it is an automatic practice. However, most adults do not commonly engage in color identification tasks. Therefore, being a less practiced skill, identifying a color takes some conscious effort. Adults tend to read the word quickly and automatically; however, they take more time to identify the font color.
In case the word and the font color are the same, the response is fast and mostly correct because the word identification is quick and the correct answer is not solely dependent on the font color.
In case the word and the font color are different, most participants either answer incorrectly or take more time to respond. The reason is that although participants may read the word quickly, they need time to engage in the second, time-consuming process of identifying the font color.
Theory of Response Competition
An alternative, although similar, explanation is based on response competition.
According to this theory, when adults are confronted with the Stroop task, their responses for identifying a word as well as the font color in which the word appears may be activated at the same time. This causes the responses to interfere with each other. The final outcome is that the participants tend to identify the word first and then its font color—an uncommon task for which neural pathways is not strong.