The Stroop Effect

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Updated on Aug 19, 2013

On the information level, this experiment serves to acquaint students with The Stroop Effect. This effect focuses on the concept of interference when the brain is given two tasks that involve conflicting signals. The section of the brain which processes these signals is called the anterior cingulate and is located between the right and the left halves of the frontal section of the brain. It deals with both cognitive and affective responses. The test s devised by DR. Stroop serves to provide information on the effects of attentional fatigue on cognitive functioning. The Stroop test items generate many questions for research in the cognitive domain such as, Is age a variable in this process? Would older individuals have greater difficulty in combating the conflicting messages or would they find these tasks uncomplicated. This experiment may serve to intrigue the students to investigate the new and fascinating research in the neurosciences.

On the experimental level, this science fair project serves to acquaint students with the essential processes of sciencing such as the importance of the use of a control, of identifying dependent and independent variables, of data collection, of pictorial and or graphic presentation of data and of being able to make better judgments as to the validity and reliability of their findings. They take on the role of scientists and in the process they learn to act as one.



  • A variety of colored magic markers
  • pencil
  • pen
  • ruler
  • variety of geometric shapes
  • package of 4 by 6 cards
  • envelopes for the cards
  • paste
  • scissors
  • watch with a second handor a stop watch
  • charts to record observations


  1. State the problem you are going to investigate in this science fair project.
  2. Obtain five volunteers from the class or from your friends, all of approximately the same age and sex and five adults, all of the same sex as your classmates or chosen friends. Describe in general terms what they will be doing and obtain a written consent slip from each stating that they are volunteering for this experiment.
  3. Create and reproduce the data sheets you will use to record your observations.
  4. Produce all of the materials on the cards and place each set of cards for each of the tasks in separate envelopes. You will need 5 sets of cards, each in an envelope. The first set of four cards will have each word printed separately on each card in black ink, red, blue, yellow and green. The second set of 4 cards will have each word again printed separately on each card. word blue in red. However, the word red is printed in blue, the word yellow in green and the word green in purple. The third set of cards will have pictures of a rectangle, a triangle, a pentagon a circle and a square with the correct words directly beneath each form. The fourth set of cards will have all of the same geometric forms with the wrong geometric names printed inside each form. The fifth set of card will have the geometric forms with the correct names placed inside each one. For templates of geometric forms cards go to demos/stO/stroopdesc.html.
  5. Provide directions to the volunteers. Explain that they will be given five sets of cards some containing words printed in black ink and other words printed in different colors, some sets of cards will contain geometric shapes with matching shape names as well as non-matching shape names. In tasks#1 and #2 they will be asked to call out the color word. In tasks 3, 4, and 5, they are to call out the name of the geometric form. All of these tasks must be done as quickly as possible. They will be timed.
  6. Using your stop watch or watch with a second hand time how long it takes each participant to complete each of the five tasks and record the data in your chart .
  7. Review the data and calculate the average time it took on each of the five tasks for each of the two groups, your classmates and your adult group to complete the tasks. Record that data in chart #2.
  8. Optional: You may want to graph the data.
  9. Review your hypothesis. Compare the two groups. Finalize your conclusions.
  10. Prepare your report and include all of the following: a clear statement of the problem, your hypothesis, namely what did you predict would occur. List the materials used. Describe the procedures used. Include all the data that were gathered. Include all charts. Formulate your conclusions. For dramatic value, you may include samples of the materials used or photos you and your volunteers in the process of conducting this investigation. Include a bibliography of sources you used. You may wish to assess what you did and describe what you would do differently if you were to do this project again. You may wish to expand this research next year. What other materials might you investigate for this purpose? Of what value is this research directed at how our brains pay, maintain and sustain attention?

Suggested Chart

Chart 1 #: Observations: Time to Complete Tasks

CL=Classmates AD= Adults


Words in Black

Words in Color

Geos+ outside correct label

Geos+inside incorrect label

Geo + inside correct label











Chart #2 Comparison of Averages

Subject Groups

Words in Black

Words in Color

Geos+ outside correct label

Geos+inside incorrect label

Geo + inside correct label




  1. De Young,Raymond, The Stroop Test, Environmental Psychology Lab, School of natural Resources and Environmental Studies
  2. Coltheart,M, Woollams,A, Kinoshita, S , Pery, Conrad, A position-sensitive Stroop effect: Further evidence for a left-to-right component in print-to-speech conversion

Dr. Muriel Gerhard (Ed.D.) is a retired educator with fifty seven years of experience in all aspects of public education. She has been a teacher, principal, administrator, college professor, researcher, grants writer, change agent and science editor. She is the author of several books on education used as college texts. These include the best selling Effective Teaching Strategies with the Behavioral Outcomes Approach and The Behavioral Outcomes Handbook for Teachers and Administrators. Presently she is a consultant in science education and curriculum development, a marriage and family therapist, a newspaper columnist and an author. Her latest book, recently published, is a memoir of sixty vignettes entitled Ć¢Now That I`m Dead, I Decided to Write this Book."

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