The Contribution of Difficulty of an Irrelevant Task to Task Conflict

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  • Ronen Hershman
    University of Innsbruck
  • Ayelet Sapir
  • Eldad Keha
    The Hebrew University
  • Michael Wagner
    Ariel University
  • Elisabeth M. Weiss
    University of Innsbruck
  • Avishai Henik
    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
In the standard color-word Stroop task, participants are presented with color words and required to respond to their color while ignoring their meaning. Two types of conflict might occur in such experiments: information conflict and task conflict. Information conflict reflects the processing of two contradicting pieces of information and is indicated by shorter reaction times (RTs) in congruent compared to incongruent trials. Task conflict reflects the additional effort associated with performing two tasks, as opposed to one, and is indicated by shorter RTs in neutral trials compared to congruent trials (termed reverse facilitation). While information conflict is commonly seen in Stroop-like tasks, task conflict is rarely observed. In the present study, participants were presented with colored segments that, by applying Gestalt principles, could be perceived as color words. We found that incongruent trials were slower than congruent trials, suggesting that participants successfully perceived the color words, which led to involuntary reading. In addition, reversed facilitation was found so that neutral trials (i.e., trials that only consist of one task) were faster than congruent trials (as well as incongruent trials; both consist of two tasks). The presence of both interference from the incongruent trials and reverse facilitation suggests that involuntary reading could also occur in scenarios requiring cognitive effort.
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CyfnodolynQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
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