Try This at Home: The Stroop Test
We have trained our brains to read and interpret words as soon as we see them. Even when we have another task - saying the color of ink of a word - it is hard to make that our brain's first priority.
What You Need
- White index cards
- Crayons or markers
What To Do
Write the name of a color on each card. Make sure to write using a crayon or marker that is a different color than the name of the color you are writing. For example, you could write "RED" using a blue crayon or "PINK" using a green crayon.
Get an adult, a friend, or both to participate in this experiment. The other people do not need to know how to read, but they do need to know the names of colors.
Explain to the others that their goal is to say each word's ink color as fast as possible.
Make a hypothesis! Do you think this will be easy or hard for the other person to do? Do you think there will be a difference in how well adults and kids do?
Hold the cards so that the other person cannot see the writing. Count to three and flip over the first card so that the other person can see it. Did the other person say the correct answer? Continue doing this until you are out of cards.
Experiment using other people. Was your hypothesis correct?
We have trained our brains to read and interpret words as soon as we see them. Instead of saying the color of the ink, our first reaction is to say the word itself. This reaction is more powerful in adults because they have more reading experience. Children who have much less reading experience, or none at all, may not immediately interpret the word. Therefore, it is easier for children to say the color of the ink first. You can also try showing the cards so that the word is upside down. This may make saying the color of the ink a little easier, as it is harder to read upside-down words.
The human eye can distinguish 500 shades of gray!