Interference: The Stroop Effect

Don’t read the words on the right–just say the colors they’re printed in, and do this aloud as fast as you can.

You’re in for a surprise!

If you’re like most people, your first inclination was to read the words, ‘red, yellow, green…,’ rather than the colors they’re printed in, ‘blue, green, red…’

You’ve just experienced interference.

When you look at one of the words, you see both its color and its meaning. If those two pieces of evidence are in conflict, you have to make a choice. Because experience has taught you that word meaning is more important than ink color, interference occurs when you try to pay attention only to the ink color.

The interference effect suggests you’re not always in complete control of what you pay attention to.

What do you think would happen:

If you tried this experiment with a very small child who had not yet learned to read?
If you tried this experiment with someone who was just learning to speak English?
If you used the same order of ink colors but wrote non-color words?
If you made up an experiment of your own.

Source: APA Online

  1. Jules -oo- June 10, 2006

    Hi, I did have to think hard to do as the guideline says: say the color outloud and not the printed word. The analysis, that we might be missing things right under our noses (my paraphrasing) brought home to me the necessity of being careful what I say and do based on what I perceive the first time I “look”.
    I like the reminder that this exercise gives to me to look more carefully and if necessary do a “double-take” even if I’m pretty sure I “know” what I saw. Granted this is not something people talk about or would bother to discuss with others and I wish we did. What kind of coping strategies do others use to remind themselves of the necessity to be careful about jumping to conclusions? I wonder that we even bother to try given that all around us we see daily examples of cupidity from most political, military and spiritual leaders. As well, We get plenty of this judgemental behavior from our families and colleagues. It makes for a distressingly difficult time for folks like me who are simply fed up with the cupidity around us. I don’t ignore it but I also won’t knowingly be a part of this kind of negative behavior. I enjoy the advantage of this forum to speak out! Thanks!

  2. Dan June 11, 2006

    Jules, what is cupidity?

  3. SummerSunshine June 12, 2006

    This is a cool site – I did need to stop and think when I signed the colors. Agree with Jules that it is easy to jump to conclusions. Need to be careful!


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