Cognitive Psychology is the field of psychology that studies how the human brain works, specifically memory, emotion, and behavior. Within cognitive psychology contains the field of processing, which focuses on how the brain works to produce a response to some situation or dilemma, and interference, what factors may disrupt the ability to process.
A study that explores this is Stroop 1935, and it relates to a theory known as the Stroop Effect. The Stroop Effect relates to how a mismatch between the color of a word and the word itself may lead to a longer time to state the color of the word. For example, if the word “blue” was printed in the color red, it would take longer to identify the color of the word than if it was just printed in the color blue. This theory helps people understand how brain processing works, specifically if words and colors would be processed in different parts of the brain. In Stroop’s study, he aimed at determining whether or not a mismatch of the color of a word and the word itself had any effect in the time it took to determine the color of the word it was printed in. To achieve this, he constructed three lists of words. All of these lists contained words that were colors, but the color that the words were printed in varied. In one of the lists, all the words were printed in black ink, while in the other two lists, the ink color varied. The first of these other two lists contained words that were printed in the color that corresponded to the word. For example, the word “green” would be printed with green ink. The last list contained words that were printed in mismatched colors. For example, the word “Purple” would be printed in red. Once the lists were constructed, the subjects of this experiment, who were 14 males and 56 females, were ordered to either read the word itself (for the list containing only the words printed in black) or state the color of the word that it was printed in (for the other two lists where the words were printed in color) as quickly as they could. From here, the time it took to respond to the lists, whether they were instructed to read the words or state the color of the words, were recorded. The results of the study showed that it took a longer time for the subjects to state the color of the word or read the word when the color printed mismatched the word itself. In addition, the experimenters also observed that there were more errors when the colors were mismatched compared to if they matched. Because of this, the study concluded that the mismatch of the color did indeed have an effect on the time it took to process information about the words, and it also provided evidence that colors and words are processed in different parts of the brain.