Focusing on task conflict in the Stroop effect

Olga Entel, Joseph Tzelgov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two types of conflict underlie performance in the Stroop task—informational (between the incongruent word and its ink color) and task (between the relevant color-naming task and the irrelevant word-reading task). We manipulated congruent-to-neutral trial ratio in an attempt to reveal whether task conflict can be monitored and controlled in the absence of an informational conflict. In our first experiment, no incongruent trials were included, thus allowing examination of a pure task conflict situation. The results revealed an impressively large facilitation when most of the stimuli were congruent and a smaller yet significant facilitation when most of the stimuli were neutrals. In Experiments 2, exposing participants to incongruent trials during pre-experimental practice (but not during the experimental blocks) slowed down the responses to congruent trials, resulting in a reduced facilitation effect in the mostly congruent condition, and in a negative facilitation in the mostly neutral condition. In our third experiment, we replicated our results, eliminating possible contingency and frequency biases. Overall, our findings show that experiencing, or at least expecting, informational conflict is essential to reveal conflict, while control is recruited through task demands. This challenges previous findings and points out that additional research is needed to clarify the necessity of informational conflict for conflict detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-295
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Research
Volume82
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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