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The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
Quoc Huy Nguyen
Student ID: 218584695
Deakin University
Unit chair: Dr Stefanie Sharman
May 7, 2020
Word count: 1909
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
The current study is intended to determine whether environmental priming, such as
dyslectic priming, affect to the reduce of Stroop effect since research suggests that automatic
behaviours are likely interfered by suggestion based on environmental priming. Stroop effect
demonstrates the delaying in reaction when the mismatch happens in stimuli since the reading
or understanding meaning of words is known as an automatic process. Four hundred and
twenty participants enrolled in HPS203 or HPS773 in 2020 were asked to complete a Stroop
task in both congruent and incongruent trials. After that, dyslectic priming is delivered to
participants through answering a short question, and participants were then asked to perform
another 12 Stroop trials to test how dyslectic priming affect to Stroop effect. The results
indicate that the reaction time is faster in a congruent trial, and there is a smaller gap of
reaction time between two groups (congruent and incongruent groups) after the intervention
of dyslectic priming. Implications of this environmental priming effect for automaticity are
discussed, as is whether dyslectic priming is effective in reducing Stroop effect. These results
support the hypothesis that dyslectic priming affects the automatic processing associated to
Stroop effect, specifically inhibition. These findings also open the question to if the impact of
social priming on automatic behaviours is immense in society.
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
Psychologically, Stroop effect is a way to demonstrate a delay in reaction time of
tasks because of a mismatch in stimuli. This effect is named after John Ridley Stroop after his
discovery in 1935. The Stroop effect refers to the finding that the reaction time to the
incongruent stimuli was significantly longer than the reaction time to the congruent stimuli.
In other words, Stroop effect facilitates with responding congruent trial and interferes with
responding in an incongruent trial. Regarding the definition of congruence and incongruence,
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
congruence is defined as the identity between the person’s ideal self and experience while
incongruence shows the difference between experience and awareness.
Notably, automatic processes play an essential role in directly generating actual
behaviours. The high level of inhibitory control can inhibit the behaviour caused by
automatic activation and produces more deliberate behaviour. Thus, inhibitory control is
necessary to maintain safety behaviour when automatic processes are dominant. Besides,
inhibitory control is measured by the Stroop task. Hence, the well understands of the Stroop
effect is effective in controlling automatic processes.
According to the experiment 2 of Stroop (1935), one hundred participants underwent
the “Naming colour test” (NC), 24 solid squares with different colours in order are used
instead of words. Participants are also given the other task known as NCWd (‘Naming colour
of word test where the colour of the print and the word are different’). Specifically, they had
to name the colours of the print where the words did not match with the colours (e.g. the
word ‘yellow’ was printed in red). The result of the experiment shows a comparison of
reaction time between two tasks. The figure of the mean of reaction time for naming colour in
the NCWd test increases nearly 74 per cent compared to the NC test (110.3 compared to 63.3,
respectively). The increase of reaction time in NCWd test indicates that the discrepancy
between word and colour of the print (incongruent stimuli) interfered the activity of naming
colours. Because word reading known as an automatic process that does not need constant
conscious guidance or controlled attention.
In terms of the experiment of Raz, Kirsch, Pollard and Nitkin-Kaner (2006), the study
aimed to determine the impact of the suggestion on reducing Stroop effect. They chose 25
proficient English readers (both genders) with a standard vision for the experiment. Then,
candidates would be divided into two different groups, namely hypnosis condition and nohypnosis condition groups. Participants had to perform two Stroop tasks, namely once with
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
activation of suggestion and once without activation of suggestion. The suggestion in the
experiment of Raz et al. (2006) is conducted by showing the crosshair at the centre of the
screen. Participants needed to focus on a cross around two seconds before responding to the
stimulus alternately. It is showed that the mean of reaction time in the inhibition Stroop effect
group (incongruent-congruent) after receiving suggestion is around 60 per cent compared to
those before receiving suggestion (77 and 76 against 132 and 116, respectively). Likewise,
the mean of reaction time of incongruent-neutral group after receiving instruction is nearly
half compared to those before receiving instruction (53 and 43 against 94 and 78,
respectively). Results indicate the significant reduce of Stroop effect because of the
suggestion such as impromptu scribbles. It is also implied that suggestion markedly disperses
and inhibit automatic cognitive processes.
Meanwhile, Bargh, Chen and Burrows (1996) emphasised that features of the
environment possibly activate the stereotypes of social groups which lead to the automatic
modification of social behaviour. Experiment 1 of this study examined the effect of traitpriming manipulations on behavioural change and social perception. In terms of
methodology, 34 students from New York University were selected for an experiment as a
course research requirement. Bargh et al. (1996) constructed three versions of trait-priming,
namely the construct rude, the construct polite and the construct neutral. First of all,
participants would be primed by completing 30 scrambled-item test with different versions
depending on the given condition of participants. Particularly the test would contain some
adjectives or verbs associated with the priming concept for rude and polite priming version,
such as bother or disturb for rude group and respect or honour for a polite group. After that,
participants would be taken to another room where confederate and experimenter did the
trick, namely they tried to pretend to converse and ignored participants, to examine whether
priming affects to automatic processes. The survey about the experience of the experiment
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
was given to participants for the last step. The elapsed time was recorded every moment
when participants utilised words to interrupt and prove their presence or finished after 10
The percentage of participants who interrupted the conversation in the rude construct
group was nearly twice the construct neutral group and tripled the polite construct group
(with the figure of 62%, 37% and 18%, respectively) (Bargh et al., 1996). Participants primed
with rudeness-stimuli tended to interrupt the conversation faster because they claimed that
ignoring them was truly rude and unprofessional. Whereas, polite-primed candidates
indicated that those actions were polite and patient. In a nutshell, the experiment implied that
traits environment activated directly and automatically related social behaviours.
Overall, the current study has utilised the information related to Stroop effect and how
this effect relates to the dyslectic priming in the context of congruent and incongruent stimuli.
The rationale of the study is getting further knowledge of the topic, namely the effect of
dyslectic priming in reducing Stroop effect and automatic processes because automaticity
possibly carries risk in many aspects of life. The current study aims to determine whether
people can utilise environmental priming to against the Stroop effect. Regardings two
hypotheses of the current study, the first hypothesis is that the reaction time for selecting in
the first experiment (congruent) is faster than the other experiment (incongruent). It was also
hypothesised that the reaction time of the incongruent group is likely faster after the
intervention of dyslectic priming.
Four hundred and twenty participants completed the experiment. They were students
enrolled in HPS203 and HPS773 during Trimester 1, 2020. Age and sex were not recorded.
Materials and Procedure
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
Participants completed the experiment online. They completed a Stroop task in which
they had to name the ink colour of each word presented on a computer screen. In incongruent
trials, ink colour was different to the colour word (e.g., RED shown in green ink). In
congruent trials, ink colour was the same as the colour word (e.g., YELLOW shown in
yellow ink). Four colours were selected (blue, green, red and yellow); they appeared with
equal frequency across trials. Participants were instructed to press the key on the keyboard
that matched the ink colour. They were told to respond quickly and without making errors.
Blue was represented by the “B” key, green was represented by the “G” key, red was
represented by “R: key, and yellow was represented by the “Y” key. Participants completed
12 trials. Reaction times for correct responses were recorded for congruent and incongruent
After taking part in the Stroop task, participants were given dyslectic priming in the
form of sentences to read and questions to answer. They were given 2 minutes to type their
thoughts into a textbox to answer the questions at the end of the sentences. The sentences and
questions were:
‘‘Mark is 25 years old and he suffers from very severe dyslexia. He cannot read or
write at all; it can be said that Mark is completely illiterate. For the next 2 minutes, think and
write about Mark’s everyday life. What does his daily routine look like? What are the things
that he is good at and what are the things that he is bad at?’’
After 2 minutes, participants completed another 12 Stroop trials.
Mean reaction times for correct responses on congruent and incongruent trials are
shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Mean reaction times for correct trials (ms)
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
Congruent trials
Incongruent trials
Before dyslectic priming
702 (21)
759 (22)
After dyslectic priming
705 (20)
710 (21)
Note. Figures in parentheses are standard deviations
Two paired t-tests were conducted to determine whether there was a significant difference
between reaction times for congruent vs incongruent trials before the dyslectic priming and
after the dyslectic priming. Before priming, there was a significant difference in reaction time
between the congruent and incongruent trials, t(419) = 5.41, p = .001. After priming, there
was no significant difference in reaction time between the congruent and incongruent trials,
t(419) = 1.21, p = .24.
The aim of the current study is to identify whether how participants in both congruent
and incongruent trials utilise the dyslectic priming against the Stroop effect. The first
hypothesis the reaction time for naming the colour of a congruent group in first step is faster
than the other group, namely incongruent group, is supported. Another hypothesis that the
reaction time is likely faster in incongruent group after utilising the dyslectic priming while
the decrease of reaction time is not recorded in the congruent group is also supported. Results
show a significant gap between congruent and incongruent groups before the intervention of
dyslectic priming (702 compared to 759, respectively). Thus, the current finding is consistent
with experiment 2 of Stroop (1935), which reported that the mismatch in word and colour
(incongruent stimuli) makes participants slower in naming colours. Besides, results also
demonstrate the reduction in reaction time of incongruent group as well as the insignificant
gap between two mentioned group after utilising dyslectic priming. These findings solidify
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
that instruction based on social priming and the decrease of Stroop effect shows a strong
linkage to each other.
Results can be further understood by the study of Bargh et at. (1996), in which the
trait-priming manipulations associated with environmental features such as rude or polite
attitude directly activate the automatical behaviours. The result of the experiment of Bargh et
at. (1996) shows that contestants primed with environmental stimuli will react differently to a
neutral group (faster or slower). Hence, the experiment of Bargh et al. (1996) shows the
consistency with the result of the present study in determining the efficiency of priming to the
automaticity. Likewise, the current findings are also consistent with Raz et al.’s study (2006),
which demonstrated that the smaller Stroop effect after being primed in spite of the
difference in priming.
In term of the Stroop effect, it could be observed that participants reported the delay in
their reaction to the naming colour task in an incongruent trial. In the current study, Stroop
effect is performed by the participants and the utilised stimulus, which is semantically related
to the mismatch in colours and words. The declaration of colours requires more cognitive
effort while reading word considered as automatic process occurs almost effortlessly. The
emergence of disparity between sources of information (incongruence) leads to the harder
functioning of the brain in solving the essential difference. Therefore, in the incongruent trial,
brain has to perform three different tasks; namely preventing reading word, processing word
colour and resolving the mismatch between two sources of information, that make
contestant’s response more slowly. At the second stage of the current study, participants were
primed with a social priming concept of dyslexia. Dyslexia is known as a disorder that
involves difficulty in reading; hence participants with dyslectic priming tend to behave
similarly. Dyslectic priming creates an automatic change in behaviour which is match with
the primed concept. Particularly this type of social priming decreases the activation of
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
automatic reading and increases the colour processing, henceforth the Stroop effect caused by
the incongruent stimuli was eliminated after the intervention of dyslectic priming.
Although the current study support participants by providing specific instructions and
details about the experiment before beginning the procedure, the pre-practice test with
unlimited time could help participants easily adapted to the stimuli of the experiment that
possibly affect the overall results. This problem related to information memorisation has the
potential to affect the ability of identification colours of prints, as some contestants could
select the colour of print according to their memory when they practised before. Another
limitation is the affect of uncontrolled variables when participants perform an experiment
such as noise or light of a screen. These uncontrolled variables worked as interference that
could have affected to reaction of contestants as well as results of the experiment. It is
undeniable that these limitations may have impacted to results of the current study; thus, the
experiment should be conducted and strictly controlled to eliminate any external validity of
the study.
For future research, a new test with a new priming stimulus may need to be devised to
evaluate the function of the automaticity. Bargh et al. (2006) showed that different traitprimings associated with environmental features had desired effect in activating automatic
processes. Henceforth, the priming could be changed and examined before utilising for the
study. Besides, the elimination of any extravenous variables which likely affect results should
be considered, as the control of the external environment. These suggestions will make the
study have a higher accuracy of results as well as increase the validity and generalisation of
the main aim of the study.
In a nutshell, an individual’s cognitive processing speed is likely to become slower to
incongruent stimuli than congruent stimuli. Besides, it is also found that the occurrence of
interference is primarily linked to incongruent stimuli and has an accompanying impact in a
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
variety of social situation. The central message of the study that instructions based on social
priming are genuinely useful in reducing the Stroop effect in the incongruent trial. Results of
the current study support and solidify hypotheses about the Stroop effect that has utilised and
enhanced the research conducted by Raz et al. (2006) and Bargh et al. (1996). The major
implication of the findings is that the rational use of primings based on environmental
features can reduce adverse effects, namely the Stroop effect, for automatic behaviours.
Stroop effect is a critical phenomenon closely associated with automaticity; thus, it is crucial
to widen and further this study.
The effect of dyslectic priming on reducing Stroop effect
Bargh, J. A., Chen, M., & Burrows, L. (1996). Automaticity of social behavior: Direct effects
of trait construct and stereotype activation on action. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 71(2), 230–244. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.71.2.230
Raz, A., Kirsch, I., Pollard, J., & Nitkin-Kaner, Y. (2006). Suggestion Reduces the Stroop
Effect. Psychological Science, 17(2), 91–95. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01669.x
Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of
Experimental Psychology, 18(6), 643–662. doi: 10.1037/h0054651