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Effect of Stroop color word interference on selective attention task among healthy young adults

Sparshadeep E M, Ansuja S, Kavana G V, Arun Anna Oommen.


Background: J Ridley Stroop showed that if someone was reading information and additional contradictory inputs were introduced, the person’s reading pace would slow down. Stroop test is used to assess selective attention. Interference can occur between the controlled process and the automatic process. Psychologists have repeatedly established that the automatic nature of reading words, seeing that it is such a well-learned repeated activity can obstruct other tasks. There is additional evidence that practicing the Stroop task alters the extent of the interference effects.

Aim and Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the response time in Stroop test among healthy young adults and to compare the response time in Stroop test before and after the practice of word identification.

Materials and Methods: Study included 82 2nd year medical undergraduates aged between 19 and 21 years, who gave their informed consent. Institutional ethical clearance was obtained. Stroop color-word test included three cards, the first bearing color patches, the second color words printed in congruent ink colors, and the third with color words printed in incongruent ink colors. The test required the subjects to name the colors on the first card, the words on the second card, and ink color on the third card without taking into account the printed words as fast as they can. Stopwatch was used to record the response time. Then, participants were asked to practice the above task of reading congruent and incongruent ink colors for about 6 days. After which they were again assessed for response time in Stroop test. Mean difference in response time between card two and three before and after the practice was tabulated and statistically analyzed.

Results: The mean age was 20 ± 2 years. Before the practice session, the mean response time taken to read card three was significantly more (13.27 ± 2.66 min) compared to card two (6.26 ± 1.41 min) (P = 0.000, unpaired t-test). After the practice session, the mean response time taken was more for card three (12.14 ± 1.83 min) compared to card two (5.33 ± 1.21 min) (P = 0.000, unpaired t-test). However, there was no significant difference in response time before and after the practice session.

Conclusion: The response time and interferences were more in incongruent Stroop test than congruent test. This indicates that the participants have delayed attention while performing Stroop test. This was in accordance with the Stroop effect. However, the study could not establish the effect of practice of word identification on Stroop test.

Key words: Practice; Response Time; Stroop Color Word Interference; Selective Attention Task

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