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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
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The aim of the experiment was to see if people's attention is affected by using The Stroop Effect.

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A2 PsychologyEmily Colman






The aim of the experiment was to see if people’s attention is affected by using The Stroop Effect. This was done by participants reading out a list of colours written in the colour stated (non-conflicting), and a list of words written in a different colour (conflicting). The sample used was opportunity consisting of 10 students, aged 17-19 years, both male and female. The results using the Wilcoxon test proved to be very significant at a <0.001 level of probability, as it took longer for participants to read out the conflicting list of words as predicted. It was concluded that when the conflicting colours are read out, attention is interfered with, and therefore it takes longer for the person to read correctly.


The Stroop Effect theory was found by J.R. Stroop who found that an individual when reading a list of continuous coloured words naming the colour (e.g. ‘red’ written in red, ‘blue’ written in blue). After doing this, the participant is then asked to read another list of coloured words but the colours are conflicting to the words(e.g. ‘red’ written in green and ‘yellow’ written in blue). The participant immediately confuses themselves with the non- matching colours and when instructed to read the colour of the word they cannot help but read the actual word out.

The Stroop Task involves the use of attention. This can be defined as an ability to avoid distraction, and as the capacity to sustain concentration over a period of time.

...read more.



There were no ethical flaws in the experiment as all participants were over 16 years old and were fully debriefed after the experiment. They were also given the choice to withdraw from the experiment at any time.


As the table below shows, it takes significantly longer for a person to read out a conflicting coloured list of words after they have read out a normal list, where the colours match the words. The evidence I have presented also supports theories discussed in background information. For example, the ‘automaticity’ theory is supported because after the participants had read out the normal list of words, they continually confused the words with the actual colour because their attention had became used to reading out words with the colours matching.

Table A- Average time taken for participants to read out lists.

Normal list of words                      

Conflicting list of words

32.85 seconds

90.12 seconds

Range of normal list of words= 7.41 seconds

Range of conflicted list of words= 65.24 seconds

The mean difference between the means of the two conditions is 57.27 seconds; this was how much longer it took the conflicting list to be read out. The longest time it took to read in the conflicting condition was 132.22 seconds, mainly because the participant took a lengthy pause and commented on how difficult the task was!

The difference between the ranges in the two conditions shows that in the conflicting condition it was much harder to read correctly, as the longer range shows.

Statistical Analysis

...read more.


 Finally, in real life situation this theory could be applied to people with attention problems and revision, for example, people trying to study could associate different revision points with different colours, for example one branch in a mind-map could be a certain colour and then remembering this in an exam.  



Raw Data

The table below shows how long the participants took to read the two different lists of words, and the differences between the two conditions are seen clearly in the time gap.

Time taken for normal list of words to be read (seconds)

Time taken for conflicting list of words to be read(seconds)

































  • Brain,Christine. Advanced Subsidary Psychology- Approaches and Methods. (2000) Nelson Thornes Ltd, Delta Place,27 Bath Road, Cheltenham.
  • Gross, Richard. Psychology a new introduction for A level Second Edition. (1998) Hodder & Stoughton, 338 Euston Road, London. NW1 3BH.
  • Maglennon, Keith. Essential Practical Psychology. (1993) Collins Educational Ltd, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 8JB.
  • Zimbardo, Philip. Psychology and Life. (1992) HarperCollins Publishers Inc.  10 East Street 53rd Street, New York.


  • Craik. Lockhart(1973) Advanced Subsidary Psychology- approaches and methods. Page 26
  • Flowers et Al. (1979) Psychology a New Introduction for A level Second Edition. Page 222-223.
  • Gleitman (1981) Essential Practical Psychology. Page 108
  • Shiffrin and Schnieder (1977) Psychology and Life. Page 227
  • Stroop,J.(1935) Psychology a New Introduction for A level Second Edition. Page 222-223.


Abstract - 1

Background- 2


Methodology- 4 -5



Bibliography and References -8

Appendix I - Raw Data - 9

Appendix ii- debriefing note - 10

Appendix iii – standardised instructions -11

Appendix iv – example of conflicting words list -12

Appendix v- example of non- conflicting words list – 13

Appendix vi – statistical analysis of results and other data -14

...read more.

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