You might be reading this thinking, “I’ve never heard of the Stroop effect.” Well, that doesn’t matter because you’re going to learn everything anybody has ever needed to learn about it now. Let’s start by outlining exactly what the Stroop effect is.
In a nutshell
The Stroop effect is used in psychology to understand how the brain evaluates information. The founder of the principle was John Ridley Stroop, who determined that it is far easier for the human mind to comprehend the reading of words than reciting their color. This idea has been the inspiration behind the Stroop Color and Word Test that is used to measure cognitive behavior in patients.
The man behind it all
John Ridley Stroop was a psychologist born near the turn of the 20th century and devoted much of his life to studying cognitive activities in the human brain. He developed the Stroop effect, and his research is considered to be the gold standard in the study of people’s capacity to focus their attention on something. Stoop was born in Tennessee and attended the George Peabody College in Nashville. He published many works based on the findings of his research before turning his attention to bible studies in his later life.
When presented with distracting information both the left and right compartments of the brain get to work. The right side of your brain will begin to decode the letters before your eyes, while the left side will work on analyzing the color. When a psychologist then asks you to read the color rather than the word, your brain has an internal conflict which slows down your response time to the question you’ve been asked. It is one of the most widely used psychological experiments in the world and is used to measure a whole host of mental and brain issues.
What’s it for?
The Stroop effect test is used to measure the cognitive activity in your brain, and it and other tests based on its results have been used across the world. The tests aim to assess if you have sustained any brain damage, as well as trying to diagnose dementia, mental illness and any of the effects the altitude might have on people who have climbed super tall peaks such as Mount Everest.
The test is used to allow doctors to understand how quickly your brain is capable of processing and comprehending things. Subjects will be shown a series of written colors, but the text is printed in a different color to what the words say. So ‘red,’ for instance, might be printed on a card, but the text is printed in yellow. You will be asked to say what the color is, rather than what the word says.
The test can be used to help doctors understand if a patient has undergone any brain trauma, or detect the early signs of dementia. It has been developed to better understand more about the human brain, and there are variations of it testing all kinds of cognitive functions. The test can now be used to study the effect being bilingual has on the brain, as well as understanding how emotions can affect our brain’s ability. It has found that subjects who are depressed take longer to comprehend negative words as opposed to neutral words.
The Stroop effect is important in psychology as it allows doctors and psychologists to better understand what has happened to a patient’s brain. Stroop’s original paper has been cited over 700 times since it was first written, making it one of the most important and quoted in experimental psychology history.