Stroop Effect

is a psychological phenomenon that demonstrates the interference in reaction time when the name of a color is presented in a color that does not match the word. It provides insight into the automatic processing of information in the brain.


The Stroop Effect is based on the concept of cognitive processing, specifically involving attention and interference. In a typical Stroop task, individuals are presented with a list of color names printed in different ink colors. The task requires them to identify the ink color while ignoring the word itself.

Interference and Reaction Time

The Stroop Effect reveals that when the color name and the ink color are incongruent (e.g., the word “red” written in blue ink), people experience interference in their reaction time. This interference occurs due to the conflict between the automatic processing of reading words and the controlled processing required to identify the ink color.

Automatic vs Controlled Processing

The Stroop task highlights the struggle between two competing cognitive processes: automatic processing and controlled processing. The automatic process involves reading the word, which happens quickly and effortlessly. The controlled process, on the other hand, requires focused attention and conscious effort to identify the ink color. When these two processes conflict, it leads to longer reaction times and errors.

Application and Significance

The Stroop Effect has broader implications in various fields. It is commonly used in psychology research to assess attentional control, cognitive flexibility, and selective attention. Additionally, it has found applications in clinical settings, such as diagnosing and studying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive impairments.

Overall, the Stroop Effect provides valuable insights into the complexities of cognitive processing and how our brains handle conflicting information. It continues to be a prominent tool in the study of attention, perception, and the functioning of the human mind.