Stroop Test Evaluation
We need to make an urgent transition to a new pattern of living, one based on simplicity, conservation and restoration. Discussed here is an assessment tool for managing the mental vitality needed for a rapid yet civil transition to sustainable living. If done well, this transition may result, unexpectedly, in improved psychological and social well-being. Raymond De Young School of Natural Resources and Environment University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 October 3, 2013 Cite as: De Young, R. (2013). Using the Stroop effect to test our capacity to direct attention: A tool for navigating urgent transitions.
Retrived from http://www. snre. umich. edu/eplab/demos/st0/stroopdesc. html Interview on mental vitality and localization (Radio Ecoshock) CONTEXT: MENTAL VITALITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP Responding to climate disruption, resource limits and energy descent will require dramatic behavior change on a massive scale. The changes we make will need to stick, over a long period of time, since there will be no “getting back to normal. ” We are, in short, confronting a new normal. One implication of this new bio-physical reality is the need for each one of us to become behavioral entrepreneurs.
Many new, and newly re-learned, skills will be needed in order for us to respond well to the coming downshift. But none are more central than our ability to cleverly problem-solve, to plan and manage our behavior, and to cope with the emotions resulting from our losing either an affluent lifestyle or the hope that perpetual growth will one day give us such a lifestyle. These abilities needed to respond well to this challenge, all require a mental state called vitality. Unfortunately, this mental resource seems to be in short supply these days.
Since burned out people cannot help heal the planet, restoring and managing mental vitality Academic publications Tragedy of the commons Environmental psychology Directed attention Overview of the Localization papers Emerging biophysical limits, and the many consequences of having disrupted the climate, leads to an unmistakable outcome: we soon will consume far fewer resources. Our everyday behaviors, metaphors, institutions and world views are not prepared for this new reality. Fortunately, behavior patterns of long ago, and our adaptive nature, suggest that we can respond well to this challenge.
These papers, published periodically, seek to help people envision a pragmatic response that supports a rapid transition to a psychologically wholesome and durable existence. New book: become preconditions for our civil transition to durable living. The Localization Papers, and the related book The Localization Reader, discuss a framework for this transition. See here for an EcoShock Radio interview (Energy Bulletin, 2012). This transition, urgent as it may well be, will be difficult.
The Workshop on Urgent Transitions, a research effort at the University of Michigan, is tasked with: (a) helping people to cope with what may be dramatic, and at times unnerving, behavior change, (b) helping people to plan for, motivate and maintain behavioral resilience and (c) helping communities to pre-familiarize themselves with living well within the limits of local ecosystems. www. snre. umich. edu/eplab/demos/st0/stroopdesc. html Endorsements Press release De Young, R. & T. Princen (2012) 1/4 10/14/13 Stroop Effect | Stroop Test De Young, R. & T. Princen (2012)
The Localization Reader Adapting to the Coming Downshift. The MIT Press. One goal of this research is to help people restore and maintain mental vitality so that they can get on with the task of healing the planet and living in a durable manner. The measures of mental vitality, of which the Stroop test discussed below is one, are a part of this research effort. MIT Press Amazon Amazon. ca Amazon. uk Barnes&Noble Powell’s Crazy Wisdom Nicola’s THE STROOP EFFECT To understand the mental process involved in the Stroop effect, look at the following four letters: tree.
If you are like most people it is difficult for you not to quickly read the word “tree. ” Most humans are so proficient at reading, at perceiving whole words, that they do not easily notice the individual letters. This is why proofreading is so hard to do. This tendency to quickly perceive words is used in testing for the Stroop effect. The Stroop effect (sometimes called the Stroop test) is an outcome of our mental (attentional) vitality and flexibility. The effect is related to the ability of most people to read words more quickly and automatically than they can name colors. If a word is displayed in a color different from the color it actually names; for example, if the word green is written in blue ink (as shown in the figure to the left) then we have a hard time noticing the blue ink. In this instance, even when asked to name the color of the ink, we tend to say the name the word represents.
Dissertation published in 1935. Current research on the Stroop effect emphasizes the interference that automatic processing of words has on the more mentally effortful task of just naming the ink color. The task of making an appropriate response – when given two conflicting signals – has tentatively been located in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. This is a region that lies between the right and left halves of the frontal portion of the brain. It is involved in a wide range of cognitive processes.
Although the functions of the anterior cingulate are very complex, broadly speaking it acts as a conduit between lower, somewhat more impulse-driven brain regions and higher, somewhat more thought-driven behaviors. The Stroop effect’s sensitivity to changes in brain function may be related to its association with the anterior cingulate. THE ROLE OF DIRECTED ATTENTION The cognitive mechanism at work in this process is called directed attention. This mental resource is used to manage our thoughts by inhibiting one response in order to say or do something else. www. snre. umich. edu/eplab/demos/st0/stroopdesc. html 2/4 10/14/13 Stroop Effect | Stroop Test something else.
The capacity to direct attention is a foundational mental resource that allows us to voluntarily manage the focus of our thoughts. It is useful in our effort to remain effective, productive, clearheaded and helpful. We can use it to inhibit the power of certain features of the immediate physical and social environment, as well as internal distractions, so as to allow consideration of less salient but nonetheless valued information. Directed attention allows for a variety of prosocial and proenvironmental behaviors.
It permits us to pursue important goals despite interesting competition in the immediate setting, to help others despite our own unmet needs, and to resist temptation so that we can remain devoted to a larger concern. In short, the capacity to direct attention is an essential resource for achieving both civility and environmental stewardship. FATIGUING THE CAPACITY TO DIRECT ATTENTION Research indicates that directed attention is a scarce and finite mental resource. When placed under continual demand, our ability to direct the focus of our thoughts tires, resulting in a condition called directed attention fatigue (DAF).
This condition reduces our overall mental effectiveness and makes consideration of abstract concepts and long-term goals difficult, at best. SOME CONSEQUENCES OF DIRECTED ATTENTION FATIGUE DAF causes irritability and impulsivity that results in thoughtless and regrettable behavior, impatience that has us making poor decisions, and distractibility that allows the immediate environment to have a greatly magnified effect on our decisions. By dramatically reducing the ability to plan and monitor our behavior, directed attention fatigue makes both proenvironmental and pro-social behavior much less likely.
These methods share the same basic procedure. A paper version of the Stroop task involves showing words that are the names of colors in the participant’s native language (for an English language version see Stroop test image here and other images here and here). The letters making up each word are printed in a color of ink different from the color name the word represents. You are asked to quickly respond with the color ink you see, and inhibit the printed word. It turns out that this is much harder than it sounds and research documents lower scores with increased directed attention fatigue.