What Klein’s “Semantic Gradient” Does and Does Not Really Show: Decomposing Stroop Interference into Task and Informational Conflict Components

Yulia Levin, Joseph Tzelgov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study suggests that the idea that Stroop interference originates from multiple components may gain theoretically from integrating two independent frameworks. The first framework is represented by the well-known notion of “semantic gradient” of interference and the second one is the distinction between two types of conflict – the task and the informational conflict – giving rise to the interference (MacLeod and MacDonald, 2000; Goldfarb and Henik, 2007). The proposed integration led to the conclusion that two (i.e., orthographic and lexical components) of the four theoretically distinct components represent task conflict, and the other two (i.e., indirect and direct informational conflict components) represent informational conflict. The four components were independently estimated in a series of experiments. The results confirmed the contribution of task conflict (estimated by a robust orthographic component) and of informational conflict (estimated by a strong direct informational conflict component) to Stroop interference. However, the performed critical review of the relevant literature (see General Discussion), as well as the results of the experiments reported, showed that the other two components expressing each type of conflict (i.e., the lexical component of task conflict and the indirect informational conflict) were small and unstable. The present analysis refines our knowledge of the origins of Stroop interference by providing evidence that each type of conflict has its major and minor contributions. The implications for cognitive control of an automatic reading process are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number249
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Stroop task
  • automaticity
  • informational conflict
  • semantic gradient
  • task conflict

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