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February 4, 2011

The Stroop Effect

No, it's not the title of an unpublished Robert Ludlum novel but, rather, the name for John Ridley Stroop's 1930s discovery that naming the color of a word is faster and more accurate when the word and color match ("red" in red letters) than when they do not ("red" in blue letters).

Don't take my word for it: see for yourself.

Wrote Bruce Bower in a May 9, 1992 Science News article, "J. Ridley Stroop achieved instant scientific prominence when his doctoral dissertion appeared in the December 1935 Journal of Experimental Psychology. Yet Stroop published only four studies between 1932 and 1938, before he abandoned the psychology laboratory for a life devoted to teaching, preaching and writing about the Bible. Stroop's students and colleagues at David Lipscomb College, a small Christian college in Nashville where he served as head of the psychology department and a popular instructor of Bible classes, referred to him as both 'Doctor Stroop' and 'Brother Stroop.'"

He died in 1973 at the age of 76.

February 4, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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I teach an experimental research methods course, and this is one of the experiments I do in class to show students how to do simple stats -- as well as to show them an example of an experiment they could do on their own with subjects.

I don't know what it was about my last course, but the students in there had no difference in the contradictory colors vs. words. Tried it on 8 students before I gave up...ok...I have a few hypothesis why this was that way, but regardless...it irked me.

Great experiment...and can really screw with people who consider themselves pretty intelligent, and yet can't read simple words...

Posted by: clifyt | Feb 4, 2011 11:57:11 AM

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