The Color of Words (or for us non-Americans: The Colour of Words)

The Stroop Effect

Now, here’s a post with a difference.  It would seem that we are in fact so fluent in our language that word recognition is far stronger in us than color recognition.  Most people will recognize the meaning of the word before recognizing the color.

A Dr John Ridley Stroop devised a psychological test intended to measure the reaction time of people when faced with a situation that was out of their normal expectations or congruency.

See how you fare with the following which formed part of Stroop’s testing:

In the first following table, name the color of the word not what the word says:

RED YELLOW BLUE GREEN BLACK
PINK ORANGE BROWN GRAY PURPLE
GREEN GRAY BLACK BLUE YELLOW

Now, do that again – name the color of the word not the word itself:

RED YELLOW BLUE GREEN BLACK
PINK ORANGE BROWN GRAY PURPLE
GREEN GRAY BLACK BLUE YELLOW

How d’you go?

Do you notice it took longer to complete the second table test than the first?

The first test is easy because the color and meaning of the word are congruent. There is no conflict.  The second test is hard because the color and meaning of the word are incongruent. This creates a conflict that the brain has to resolve.  The brain has to suppress the wrong answer that interferes with the right answer, before the right answer comes through.

Good, eh?  And don’t you just love those two words:  congruent and incongruent?

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