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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
  • Word count: 2012

An Investigation into the Stroop Effect using words and shapes.

Extracts from this document...


Gemma Burton 8133

An Investigation into the

Stroop Effect using words

and shapes.

Gemma Burton 8133


The experimenter aimed to prove that response times would be longer when the shapes were being read.  This is reflected in the hypothesis, There will be longer response times when the shapes are read because the shape words will interfere. The experiment carried out was similar to the original stroop effect (Stroop 1935) but shapes were used instead of colours. Participants were chosen by opportunity sampling as only a small amount of people were available. The experiment was tested by asking the participants to read a series of words surrounded by shapes (condition 1) and for the second condition was to name the surrounding shape.  The time took to complete each condition was recorded and the experimenter’s prediction was correct to say that the response time for the second condition would be slower. This is because reading is such an automatic thing therefore condition 1 was likely to be easier. This concludes that a person’s attention can not be focused fully on one task and something called automatic processing forces people to read the word instead of the shape.

Gemma Burton 8133


   The chosen topic area was attention.

Attention merges with perception as both are concerned with what we become aware of in our environment. E.g. we can only perceive things we are attending to and we can only attend to things we can perceive.  

   The specific area which was studied was divided attention.

...read more.



There will be longer response times when the shapes are read because the shape words will interfere.

Null Hypothesis

There will not be longer response times when the shapes are read because the shape words will not interfere.

Gemma Burton 8133



   The repeated measures design was used because the sample is only small and to control participant variables e.g. reading speed.

Condition 1 = The colour words were read column by column.

Condition 2 = The shape names were read column by column.

The participants were counter balanced to either condition 1 or condition 2 and were asked to carry out the experiment in a well lit, quiet room with no distractions. The time of day was kept the same and the same stimulus was used for each participant. These controls were kept constant to ensure that there was no bias and that the IV was the only variable that could affect the DV.

IV = The interference of the shape names.

DV = The time taken to name the shape, measured in seconds.

   Regarding ethical issues, the participants were not at any time placed in a situation where they felt pressured to take part or continue and were fully aware of the right to withdraw. The investigation was followed up by a thorough debriefing and only necessary information was withheld such as the aim of the investigation so as not to affect their behaviour. Participants were given as much information as was reasonably possible.


   Opportunity sampling

...read more.


Discussion and conclusions

The experimenter took up the experimental hypothesis.

There will be longer response times when the shapes are read because the shape words will interfere.

The experiment proves what the original stroop effect proves and the experimenter was right to predict this as the experiment does support background theories by Kahneman and Henik. One of the results did not fit in correctly with the others, which gave an anomolous result. This may have been because the participant was not a good reader or maybe they were less aroused.

The experimenter only had a small unrepresentative sample so the investigation would have been more accurate if the sample was larger and included more representatives of a broader cross section of the population.

If the experiment was to be conducted again a larger sample would be used and closer control over environmental conditions. The shapes could also be changed for something else such as shapes of animals or use numbers. E.g.

3        3        3        3

  1. 4

6        6        6        6        6

  1. 3

1        1        1        1        1        1

7        7        7        7        7

5        5        5

2        2        2        2

The participants would have to state how many numbers are in each row. The experimenter would have to investigate whether the printed numbers affected the participant’s ability to state the amount of numbers in each row. This is a similar idea to the stroop effect and would be a good example of a further study.

In conclusion the words did affect the participant’s ability to state the shape therefore the experiment was successful in supporting theories. The experimental hypothesis was correct as supported by the results. The experiment proved that the IV did affect the DV.


  • The science of mind and behaviour.

By Richard Gross

Published by Hodder and Stoughton

Chapter on attention

  • Own notes from class
  • Sheets from class

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