by Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily
The Stroop effect is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When a word such as blue, green, red, etc. is printed in a color differing from the color expressed by the word's semantic meaning (e.g. the word "red" printed in blue ink), a delay occurs in the processing of the word's color, leading to slower test reaction times and an increase in mistakes.
Dave reported on a new finding:
Amir Raz and colleagues noticed that they could reduce and even eliminate the Stroop Effect by hypnotizing participants and suggesting to them that the words were in a foreign language, so they could focus solely on color.
Whether or not participants were hypnotized, all showed a diminished Stroop Effect when it was suggested that the words were gibberish. There was no significant difference in the results between hypnotized and non-hypnotized participants.
Raz's team argues that this experiment demonstrates that reading is not entirely involuntary. The experiment is an example of a simple way that individuals who have not been hypnotized can voluntarily reduce the tendency to automatically read the word they are looking at.