Study on the Effects on Attention Via the Interaction of Automatic and Controlled Processes Using a Variation of the Stroop Effect.

Study on the effects on attention via the interaction of automatic and controlled processes using a variation of the Stroop effect.


The effect of automatic processing on controlled processing was investigated in this experiment. Previous research conducted by Stroop (1935, as cited in Edgar) had revealed that automatic processing can interfere with controlled processing via response times in naming ink colours of printed words being longer then when the words were colour names. The interference effect between automatic and controlled processing tasks was studied further in this experiment using an adopted Stroop experiment, where instead of colour names, colour-related words were used to see if the interference effect would still occur. The experiment findings revealed that the automatic process of reading words significantly affected the time it took to carry out the control task of naming the ink colour of the word, indicating that interference had occurred.


Why is it that we don’t remember everything all of the time? James (1890, as cited in Edgar, 2007) defines attention as ‘taking possession’ of one particular thought or stimuli out of many. An explanation for why there has to be a choice can be seen from Kahnemans limited capacity processor theory (1973, as cited in Edgar, 2007). The theory suggests that the brain has only a limited capacity and can therefore only manage a limited amount of information at any given time. Kahnemans theory implies that an individual is in control of their direction of attention. This selection of attention is referred to as controlled processing. Controlled processing makes heavy demands on attentional resources, takes time and engages conscious awareness (Edgar, 2007).

The studies of Schneider & Shiffrin (1977, as cited in Edgar, 2007) have also suggested the presence of automatic processing. Automatic processes make little or no demand on attentional resources, are faster, require no...