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Experiencing Psychological Processes and Understanding their Implications
Unformatted Document Text:  3 Next they flip over the paper or cover up the first column. The task remains the same: they are to name the color of the ink of each word as quickly as they can. This time though, the colors of the letters and the words they spell are not the same. It will take the students much longer to read the list. Many will make mistakes. It's an enjoyable experience for all those involved. Instead of many voices in unison going quickly down the list, the time it takes people to finish will spread out quite a bit. By the time the bulk of the class gets to the end of the list, there will be giggles and side conversations breaking out as the students marvel at how different this ostensibly identical task is. In my experience, the students swivel their attention to the instructor. They're eager for an explanation of what they just experienced. The Stroop Task demonstrates what psychologists call the interference paradigm. The first version of the task is easy because all cues point in the same direction. In the second version though, two of the mind's systems give different answers. The color- sensing system automatically perceives the colors of the words, as it should. The semantic system automatically perceives the words. Since these two systems are giving different answers about what is on the page, the executive portion of the mind has to adjudicate among the systems and decide which one is presenting the most relevant information to the color-identification task. This extra step takes more cognitive effort and more time to complete, and thus the second list takes more time. The general idea is that the time it takes a person to use their memory tells us about how their memory is organized. Things that go together are more easily retrieved together and can be retrieved more quickly. When things that don't go together are retrieved for the same task, the need to sort out which is relevant takes extra time. One of the most fascinating and well-publicized and politically relevant applications of the interference paradigm is the Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT), which can

Authors: Transue, John.
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Next they flip over the paper or cover up the first column. The task remains the
same: they are to name the color of the ink of each word as quickly as they can. This
time though, the colors of the letters and the words they spell are not the same. It will
take the students much longer to read the list. Many will make mistakes. It's an
enjoyable experience for all those involved. Instead of many voices in unison going
quickly down the list, the time it takes people to finish will spread out quite a bit. By the
time the bulk of the class gets to the end of the list, there will be giggles and side
conversations breaking out as the students marvel at how different this ostensibly
identical task is. In my experience, the students swivel their attention to the instructor.
They're eager for an explanation of what they just experienced.
The Stroop Task demonstrates what psychologists call the interference paradigm.
The first version of the task is easy because all cues point in the same direction. In the
second version though, two of the mind's systems give different answers. The color-
sensing system automatically perceives the colors of the words, as it should. The
semantic system automatically perceives the words. Since these two systems are giving
different answers about what is on the page, the executive portion of the mind has to
adjudicate among the systems and decide which one is presenting the most relevant
information to the color-identification task. This extra step takes more cognitive effort
and more time to complete, and thus the second list takes more time.
The general idea is that the time it takes a person to use their memory tells us
about how their memory is organized. Things that go together are more easily retrieved
together and can be retrieved more quickly. When things that don't go together are
retrieved for the same task, the need to sort out which is relevant takes extra time.
One of the most fascinating and well-publicized and politically relevant
applications of the interference paradigm is the Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT), which can


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