Try this: name the colors of the words in the box. Do not read the word; just say the color of word’s letters.
Did you find this difficult? Most people do. You have just experienced interference.
John Ridley Stroop documented this phenomenon in 1935 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, therefore it is now known as “The Stroop Effect”.
The words themselves have a strong influence over your ability to say the color. The interference between the different information (what the words say and the color of the words) your brain receives causes a problem.
There are two theories that may explain the Stroop effect:
- Speed of Processing Theory: the interference occurs because words are read faster than colors are named.
- Selective Attention Theory: the interference occurs because naming colors requires more attention than reading words.
Try it again, but only look at the last letter of each word instead of the whole word. Is this easier?