Grade level(s): Middle School
Lesson Title: Mixed Messages
Internet Site Title:Colors, Colors
Internet Site URL: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/java/ready.html
Author: Susan Brooks
Site Description: Warner Brown, Practice in associating color names with colors, Psychol. Rev., (1915,p.51) concluded "the association process in naming simple objects like colors is radically different from the association process in reading printed words."
This suggested a comparison of the interfering effect of color stimuli upon reading names of colors (the two types of stimuli being presented simultaneously) with the interfering effect of word stimuli upon naming colors themselves. In other words, if the word 'red' is printed in blue ink how will the interference of the ink-color 'blue' upon reading the printed word 'red' compare with the interference of the printed word 'red' upon calling the name of the ink-color 'blue?' The increase in time for reacting to words caused by the presence of conflicting color stimuli is taken as the measure of the interference of color stimuli upon reading words.
The increase in the time for reacting to colors caused by the presence of conflicting word stimuli is taken as the measure of the interference of word stimuli upon naming colors. A second problem grew out of the results of the first. The problem was, What effect would practice in reacting to the color stimuli in the presence of conflicting word stimuli have upon the reaction times in the two situations described in the first problem? (Studies of Interference in Serial Verbal Reactions, J. Ridley Stroop, (1935))
Site Purpose: How do words influence what we see? How does the brain handle "mixed messages"?
Words have a strong influence over your brain's ability to distinguish information.. The interference between the different information (what the words say and the color of the words) your brain receives causes a problem.
Here is your job...name the colors of these words,NOT what the words say...rather, say the color of the words. For example, for the word BLUE, you should say "RED". Say the colors as fast as you can.
John Ridley Stroop first reviewed this phenomenon in a Ph.D. thesis published in
1935, and over 700 articles have been written about it since. Current theories on
the Stroop effect emphasize the interference that automatic processing of words
has on the more "effortful" task of just naming the colors. The task of selecting an
appropriate response -- when given two conflicting conditions -- has tentatively
been located in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. This region lies
between the right and left halves of the frontal portion of the brain, and is involved in
a wide range of thought processes and emotional responses.
Keeping the site purpose questions in mind, you and your partner will predict your abilities to process information as quickly as possible in a timed test and predict trouble spots you may encounter doing this activity. Then both will separately take the color test and record your data.
Final Product or Task: Record data processed on the computer in an Excel worksheet, calculate the speed with which you and your partner completed the task. Compare and analyze the data in a word processor document as to the correctness of your prediction and of the difficulties of the task.
Lesson Description: First make a prediction on the outcome of the assignment, as to rate of completion of the test and problems that may be encountered. Complete the timed activity using the following link: Interactive Stroop Effect Experiment three separate times. Using a spreadsheet keep track where you mix up the words and colors or have trouble reading the colors. Analyze your data by answering the following questions or make up one to four of your own questions. Which words tend to trip you up? Was it the same word every time? Did the color of the word make a difference? Did it get easier or harder each time? Write a statement of conclusion that is based on the analysis of your data, keeping in mind the original question and your prediction.
Conclusion: Now that you realize the difficulties of mixed messages to the brain, can you think of any other experiments to do with this same topic? The brain is still a mystery to scientists. With further research and data, maybe you will help uncover some newfound knowledge of how the brain works.
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