Use of the Stroop phenomenon as a diagnostic tool for malingering

Alicia Osimani, Ariel Alon, Andrea Berger, Jacob M. Abarbanel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Aims - To assess a computerised version of the Stroop test for detection of malingering of cognitive deficit. Methods - Sixty subjects were assessed using this test. Twenty had cognitive deficits due to brain damage of miscellaneous aetiologies. Ten were healthy, not acquainted with the test, and were asked to simulate cognitive impairment. Another 10 simulators were psychology students trained in the use of the test. Twenty healthy subjects served as controls. Results were analysed for reaction time, error percentage, and the Stroop effect. Results - There was a significant difference in reaction time among groups, showing a direct relation of age among control subjects, and also longer reaction time in patients with brain damage than in controls. Controls and patients with brain damage showed a clear Stroop effect. Simulators had a significantly prolonged reaction time, increased error percentage, and inverted or absent Stroop effect. This alteration of the Stroop effect is never present in organic cognitive deficits and seems to be a characteristic pattern of feigning, independently of knowledge of the test. Conclusion - This technique mended as a valuable tool feigned cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-621
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Head injury
  • Malingering
  • Reaction time
  • Stroop effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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