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Stroop Effect on Memory Function Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 29th, 2020

Abstract

The aim of the study was to examine the Stroop effect on memory function of men and women. The experiment was conducted with 16 women and 16 male with similar age range and ethnic background. Environmental factors such lighting of the room and room temperature were kept at constant. The inhabitation and attentional control were examined using the color word Stroop. It was assumed that men will face challenges in identifying color with a different word than women. It was also assumed that both men and women will encounter difficulties in identifying the color of the ink with a different word. These hypothesize were consistent with the study results. This study can be used in understanding the correlation between attention and memory both in men and women and may be applied to academic concepts.

Introduction

There are questions and concerns on how the brain works and how it process information. Research has led psychologist to connect cognitive functions to anatomical location (Jorm, Anstey, Christensen, & Rodgers, 2004). The frontal lobe is connected to memory tasks such as solving problems, reasoning abilities, planning, and attention. However, it is still unknown how the frontal lobe functions to define the way in which a person processes and stores information. This study seeks to compare cognitive interference between men and women using the Stroop effect.

The Stroop effect utilizes words and colors to produce an incongruent effect by having a color like “YELLOW” written in blue ink. The subjects spent much time with high error rates to responding to the naming of color with different words. This is because the incongruent color interferes when identifying the printed color. In the context of Baddeley’s theory, the central executive of the memory is responsible for this interferences. Baddeley’s (1997) theory of executive function is an umbrella term consisting of the critical skills for purposeful, goal-directed activity. Executive functions are conceptualized as a collection of processes that guide, direct, regulate and manage cognitive, emotional and behavioral function. The higher order cognitive functions integrate the more basic cognitive processes such as attention, perception and memory.

Baddeley (1997) considers working memory to be classified into three component. The first component is the phonological loop. The function of the phonological loop is to analyze and send auditory stimuli. Besides attending to auditory stimuli, the phonological loop is tied to language; both written and verbal communication. Baddeley (1997) believes that people subvocalize everything that they read to help them attend to the information. Baddeley (1997) found that subjects had more trouble remembering auditory stimuli that sounded similar as opposed to stimuli that had different sounds. Therefore, distinctive incentives comprise more than just phonological loop. If people take longer to arrive at answers, then there must be more demand on a secondary decision-making system, such as the central executive.

When individual take a long period to process assigned task, the secondary decision-making system such as the central executive is under pressure to identify the appropriate solution to the linked problem. The visuospatial sketchpad, the second component, plays a significant role in assisting people to navigate their surrounding environment. This component help people to process the environment around them, imagine the environment and mentally accepting what they see. The component plays a significant role in manipulating objects, imaging objects, events, and concepts. It also helps people to recall information in long-term memory. The final component, central executive, delegate attention, screens out irrelevant information, and facilitates clear understanding. The central executive is connected to task involving general intelligence.

Hypothesis

The aim of the study was to examine Stroop effect on men and women’s cognitive functions. Studies suggest a gender difference in connection to cognitive abilities (Maylor et al., 2007). Women appear to performed cognitive function better than men. Maitland, Intrieri, Schaie and Willis (2000) study reported a gender difference in cognitive function during the seven years of study. According to their study (Maylor et al., 2007), female outperformed male in a verbal recall task, regardless of the age. Lowe, Mayfield and Reynolds’ (2003) finding assert that female performs better in verbal task memory while male performed better in task related to spatial task memory. Based on the literature findings, the study assumed that men will encounter more challenges in recognizing color with a different word than women. I also assumed that both men and women will encounter difficulties in identifying the color of the ink with a different word.

Method

The experiment was conducted with 16 women and 16 male with similar age range and ethnic background. Environmental factors such lighting of the room and room temperature were kept at constant. All the respondent were asked to sign a consent form before beginning the experiment. The consent form informed them of all the necessity of the experiment. The respondent also signed a psychological readiness question before beginning the experiment. The participants were fully informed about the requirements of the experiments. Participants with normal or corrected to normal vision completed the selected tasks. The participants received the testing under supervised laboratory conditions.

The inhabitation and attentional control were examined using the color word Stroop. This experiment utilized two test type for each group. Two stimuli tests were congruent (string of “X”s in a match the word), and two stimuli tests were incongruent (the name of the color was not the same color as the visually represented stimuli). The congruent and incongruent conditions were applied to the subjects with two experiment on each group. The color word Stroop has repeatedly shown to be a reliable and valid measure of cognitive interferences. The two stimuli tests were congruent (block that matched in color), and the other two stimuli tests were incongruent (blocks of different color). The computer recorded response time and accuracy of information.

Results

The aim of the study was to examine Stroop effect on men and women’s cognitive functions. The results suggest that women averaged better than men on the Stroop task. Women had better cognitive abilities to separate color from the real word. Men took much time to unravel this logic. The women average was 7.08 seconds with the correct name/ color and 13.40 seconds with the different color/name. The men average was 7.48 seconds with the correct name/color and 15.19 seconds with the different color/name.

The results are presented in the following graph

Examine Stroop effect on men and women’s cognitive functions.
Examine Stroop effect on men and women’s cognitive functions.

Discussion

The aim of the study was to examine Stroop effect on men and women’s cognitive functions. It was hypothesized that men will encounter more challenges in memorizing color with a different word than women. It was also assumed that both men and women will encounter difficulties in identifying the color of the ink with a different word. These hypothesizes are in line with the study results. Women outperformed men in both congruent and incongruent blocks activities. This results consistent with Poulin, O’Connel, and Freeman, (2004) findings that women outperformed men pictorial recall task. Poulin, O’Connel, and Freeman, (2004) concluded that that estrogen hormone in women enhanced their visual and memory abilities.

Since there is a large difference between the congruent and incongruent blocks, I was led to believe that there is some level of attention loading in both men and women. The more that a task is purely sensory, the less it draws upon the executive functioning systems of the central executive. The more complex and less sensory a task is, the more involved the executive functioning becomes (Poulin, O’Connel, & Freeman, 2004).

Activities that demand higher functioning of the brain lead to a slower reaction time and is connected more to the working memory which also incorporates the tasks of the frontal lobe. Restucia, Marca, Marra, Rubino and Valeriani (2005) agree with my study finding. According to their findings activities in the frontal lobe occurs when individual seek attention and perform tasks that demand attention. This stresses the idea that a certain amount of brain demand must have been accomplished by the activation of the central executive.

This explains why both men and women spent much time identifying the color of the ink with a different word. My study, therefore, demonstrates that attentional loads are the critical variable that determine the connection between congruent and incongruent blocks. In light of this contention, it is conceivable another variable exists that better explains the connection. Working memory probably accounts for some variance between the congruent and incongruent blocks. Working memory is maybe responsible for the variance between congruent and incongruent aspects.

I recommend a future study to focus on the notion of cognitive loading.The current study was performed in controlled environmental settings which lack a reflection of a natural setting where people are involved in real life memory test. Therefore, the environmental legitimacy of the study can be questioned. The extension of this study should be performed to investigate whether the controlling environment had an impact Baddeley’s (1997) theory of memory load.

The participants were a healthy individual from the same ethnical background. This limited the generalization of the group. Future research attention should be focused on different population, especially those considered to be more prone to negative psychological and health consequences such as adolescents, health risks, and disability. Future studies also need to concentrate on individuals from different societies, racial characters as well as another psychological background. The findings from this study can be used in understanding the correlation between attention and memory both in men and women and may be applied to academic concepts.

References

Baddeley, A. D. (1997). Human memory: Theory and practice. Hove, UK: Psychology Press. Web.

Jorm, A. F., Anstey, K. J., Christensen, H., & Rodgers, B. (2004). Gender differences in cognitive abilities: The mediating role of health state and health habits. Intelligence, 32, 7-23. Web.

Lowe, P. A., Mayfield, J. W., & Reynolds, C. R. (2003). Gender differences in memory test performance among children and adolescents. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 18, 865-878. Web.

Maitland, S. B., Intrieri, R. C., Schaie, W. K., & Willis, S. L. (2000). Gender differences and changes in cognitive abilities across adult life span. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 7, 32-35. Web.

Maylor, E. A., Reimers, S., Choi, J., Collaer, M.L., Peters, M., & Silverman, I. (2007). Gender and sexual orientation differences in cognition across adulthood: Age is kinder to women than to men regardless of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 235-249. Web.

Poulin, M., O’Connel, R. L., & Freeman, L. M. (2004). Picture recall skills correlate with 2D: 4D ration in women but not men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 174-181. Web.

Restuccia, D., Marca, G. D., Marra, C., Rubino, M., Valeriani, M. (2005). Attentional load of the primary task influences the frontal but not the temporal generators of mismatch negativity. Cognitive Brain Research, 25(3), 891-899. Web.

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