The Stroop Effect Essay
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The aim of the study was to investigate the extent that automatic tasks have an effect on the speed of saying the words. It was assumed that participants will take significantly longer to say colour words in a different colour to what the word is on a word list then when the colour word is in the same colour because reading a word has become an automatic process. The method of this study used a repeated measures and matched pairs design and involved giving participants a selection of six lists; three inconsistent with colour and the word and three consistently worded.
The sampling method was opportunity sampling taken from a sampling body of 16-19 year old students at Richmond Upon Thames College. Results were tested using the Wilcoxon matched pairs signed ranks test; this showed that there is a significant difference in the mean time taken to say the inconsistent list in comparison to the consistent list. However, environmental factors such as the noise of the surroundings have not been taken into account adding a major limitation to this study.
The topic area I am going to study is attention, looking more specifically into automatic processing. Automatic processing is a concept in the area of attention that states that some tasks can be processed without the awareness of the person and don’t interfere with the ability to process other tasks, for example someone who can type and talk to someone at the same time. This person can type without thinking about it; it has become an automatic process. Schiffrin and Schneider (1977) pioneered research in this area.
They found that automatic processes are inflexible and hard to change i. e. once they are learnt it is difficult to alter them. Norman and Schallice (1986) argue that automatic tasks are preformed through schemas (a way of organising and storing knowledge, creates a framework for future understanding) and that when an action is preformed the relevant schema has to be used and the other, similar schema controlled using contention scheduling to stop similar schemas being activated.
An example of this is if someone goes into a kitchen to make tea then the other schemas relevant to the kitchen, for example a toast making schema must be controlled using contention scheduling. Norman and Schallice also identified a supervisory attentional system which is when someone is controlling themselves consciously to override an automatic process. An example of this is when someone usually leaves their house and turns left to go to college but due to an appointment they have to turn right.
Stroop (1935) also conducted research into automatic processes. He gave participants two lists and asked them to say the name of the colour the words were printed in – one list was colour words in the same colour and the second was colour words in a different colour. Stroop found that when the colour words were in different colours the participant would take longer to read the colour of the word this is because the automatic process of reading is completed faster then the controlled process of identifying the colour.
This research is being conducted to identify if it applied to students as because they are studying they may be more aware of the colour or the tasks at hand – they in a “performance mode”. Aim: To investigate the effects of two similar tasks i. e. reading different coloured words on the speed of saying the words. Hypothesis-directional: Participants will take significantly longer to say colour words in a different colour to what the word is on a word list then when the colour word is in the same colour.
Hypothesis-null: There will be no difference in the time taken for participants to say colour words in a different colour to what the word is on a word list then when the colour word is in the same colour. Methods Design The research will be carried out in a repeated measures design; participants will be exposed to both the conditions, each variable will be tested on the participant three times. This design however, suffers from order effects; once a participant has finished one list they will be “ready” or “rehearsed” for the next ergo be better at the next list.
With this in mind, this research will be counter balanced, for example if participant A reads list 1 first then participant B will read list 2 first and so on. To ensure more valid results the participant will receive three lists from the inconsistent condition and three lists from the consistent condition. Investigator effects will be avoided by creating a set of standardised instructions; this will ensure that the researchers do not treat each participant differently creating less demand characteristics.
This research could be considered unethical as the participant doesn’t know what they are doing but this will be dealt with by a debriefing; after the experiment the participant will be told what the experiment is for the lack of informed consent will only cause minimal psychological harm. The hypothesis will only be accepted if the results show a level of significance over 5%; this has been chosen to make the results more generalisable and to avoid anomalies.