Controlling Stroop Interference: Evidence From a Bilingual Task

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Abstract

Skilled performance is often associated with automaticity. Automatic processes are generally thought of as uncontrollable so that automaticity implies the lack of control. The Stroop colornaming task is one of the most cited examples of automaticity and uncontrollability of word reading. This task is also employed extensively to investigate the structure of the bilingual lexicon. The present work employed a Hebrew-Arabic bilingual Stroop task in two separate experiments. To induce controlled processing, we varied the subjects' expectations regarding the written (irrelevant) color words. The Stroop interference effect was always present but subjects were able to control (reduce) it in their native language but not in their second language. In addition, the presumed structure of the bilingual lexicon seems to change in accordance with proficiency in the second language. It is suggested that automaticity and control are both characteristics of skilled performance with each of them reflecting a different aspect and each subserving a different function of our cognitive system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-771
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Volume16
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1990

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