Controlling Stroop effects by manipulating expectations for color words

by J Tzelgov, A Henik, J Berger
Mem Cognit ()
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An important characteristic of automatic processing is its uncontrollability. The Stroop phenomenon is regarded as a prototypical example of this characteristic of automatic processing, hence, the Stroop effect should not change when the percentages of color words versus neutral stimuli are manipulated to induce controlled processing. We found that Stroop interference decreased as the percentage of color words increased. Furthermore, the magnitude of the inhibitory component of the Stroop effect was negatively correlated with the percentage of color words; the facilitatory component was insensitive to the manipulation. These results suggest that the Stroop effect is controllable (see Logan, 1980) and that the locus of control is postlexical. The results also suggest that facilitation and inhibition are produced by different mechanisms and challenge those models of the Stroop phenomenon (e.g., Cohen, Dunbar, & McClelland, 1990; Phaf, Van der Heijden, & Hudson, 1990) that assume that a single processing mechanism causes facilitation and inhibition and that control affects facilitation and inhibition alike (Logan, 1980).

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