Fifty-four students from the University of Surrey took part in the experiment by performing on two types of colour-naming Stroop tests and completing a self-report personality questionnaire that measured the level of inattention and impulsivity. Correlational design was used and Pearson’s r and Spearman’s rho were utilised to analyse the data. The Hypothesis of an association between the Stroop 1 task and the level of inattention was found to be significant. The other three Hypotheses, which assumed correlation between the performance on the Stroop test 1 and the level of impulsivity, also between the performances on the colour-word Stroop 2 and the level of inattention, then impulsivity, were all rejected.
Cognitive approaches to personality are found to be associated with several common characteristics, such as individual differences in thinking styles, or assumption that cognitive modes are related to personality traits. Numerous experiments have been conducted on linking perception to personality and explain the relationship between stimuli and associated response patterns. According to Allport (1937, cited in Alansari, 2004) cognitive style is a person’s typical or habitual mode of problem-solving, thinking, perceiving, and remembering, whereas another study defines cognitive style as the way an individual filters and processes stimuli depending upon his or her environment (Harvey, 1963, cited in Alansari, 2004).Two types of attention have been considered.
Selective attention is the ability to attend and process a single stimulus and disregard all other stimuli or inputs. Divided attention is the ability to attend to and process more than one stimulus or input at the same time.According to Broadbent’s model of attention, all information comes through a single channel and there is a filter early in the system that screens out all unwanted information. He maintained that the information to be attended to is selected on the basis of gross physical characteristics (voice, pitch, colour), and not on the basis of meaning.
He believed that attention is pre-conscious, therefore any decision about which stimulus to attend to is made before the content is known, meaning that selection is based on the sensory properties of stimulus rather than what the stimuli means.Deutsch and Deutsch (1963) and Norman (1976) proposed a model of attention involving late selection. They stated that all sensory information is unconsciously recognised at the start and goes to a short-term store, where selection then occurs on the basis of relevance or pertinence.Kahneman’s resource-allocation theory of attention (1973) states that a limited amount of processing capacity is allocated flexibly, according to task demands. Attention ability depends on overall processing capacity which is variously affected by the difficulty and salience of the task, also the arousal, motivation, momentary intention and skill of the person. In contrast to the previous researchers, Kahneman’s model greatly emphasizes the constant evaluation and adjustment according to the feedback about task performance.
This model of attention suggests that some of our information processing is automatic. Eysenck and Keane (1995, cited in Eysenck and Keane, 2000) state that automatic processing is fast, unconscious, makes no demands on attention and is unavoidable, meaning that it always happens in response to a certain situation.Stroop (1935) developed an experimental procedure to illustrate an interference effect (Stroop effect) and which involves naming the conflicting colour of ink in which colour-words are written.
He found that naming the colour of incongruous colour-words takes normally significantly longer than it does to name a coloured meaningless letter string (such as XXX). This difference in naming times has been taken to illustrate the unavoidable, automatic processing of written words. The Stroop experiment is also taken as evidence against Broadbent’ s theory, which states that attention is pre-conscious, therefore any decision about which stimulus to attend to is made before the content is known, meaning that selection is based on the sensory properties of stimulus rather than what the stimuli means.The Stroop phenomenon has been explained by the following two contrasting approaches; perceptual conflict and response competition. The former refers to a proposed overloading of an individual’s limited processing capacity by word and incongruent colour, involving both relevant (colour) and irrelevant (word) information, and by this causing delay in total processing time. The latter concerns the response initiation stage, where two competing responses use a single response channel. While a colour stimulus requires transformation from a perceptual to a verbal code, such transformation is not required for word stimulus.
Therefore, irrelevant word information reaches the response initiation stage before the relevant colour information, causing interference apparent in the Stroop task (Doehrman, Landau, & O’Connell, 1978).The vast majority of research regarding the Stroop task has focused on why facilitation and interference occur. Relatively little research has addressed individual differences on this task (MacLeod, 1991). The research that has been conducted on individual differences with the Stroop task has primarily examined sex, age, hemispheric differences, and language. A clear trend has been found for age differences and the level of reading skill; interference is minimal for children in the first grade and gradually increases through second and third grades (Schiller, 1966). Preston and Lambert (1969) and Dyer (1971a) found interference between the two languages of bilinguals, but not to the same magnitude of within language interference. Block (1993) found significant correlation between Scoop effect and level of impulsivity in boys.
Both inattention and impulsivity are inhibiting factor in learning which receives wide attention due to its close relationship to arousal emotions, anxiety and motivation (Clark ; Fiske, 1982; Mandler, 1984). Usually in situations that demand precise decision, judgement, fast reaction time – for example, tests and examinations – inattention and impulsivity can impair performance. Stroop tests are used to measure individual differences in attention, and it is used to differentiate between normal adults and adults with ADHD.
The experiment utilises two versions of Stroop test; Stroop 1 presents coloured meaningless letter string (xxx), Stroop 2 contains colour-words in incongruent colour print, both letter strings and colour-words were presented in rows on different sheets of A4 paper. The researcher seeks support to four hypotheses, which assume that there is a significant association between the performance on Stroop 1 test and the the two personality traits (impulsivity and inattention); also there is a relationship between Stroop 2 test performance and the two personality traits.MethodSubjectsFifty-four (54) students – comprising forty-two (42) females and twelve (12) males – from the University of Surrey took part in this experiment with an age range between 18 and 47 years and the mean age of 20.98 years. All subjects had normal or corrected to normal visual acuity and normal colour vision.MaterialsThree materials were used; Stroop 1 task, Colour-word Stroop 2 and a NEO-FFI Personality Traits Questionnaire. Both Stroop 1 and Colour-word Stroop 2 were colour-naming tasks. In Stroop 1 triple x (xxx) were intermittently presented in seven different ink colours in rows on a sheet of A4 paper.
The subjects were timed with stop watches how quickly they could name the colours correctly. In Stroop 2 colour-words (e.g., BLUE) incongruent with the colour print (e.g., red) were presented and the participants were timed how quickly they could name the colour of the words.
The words were presented in rows on an A4 sheet of paper. Another measure was taken from the NEO-FFI Personality Traits Questionnaire. Participants were asked to answer the questions which were related either inattention or impulsivity. Statements such as ‘I am forgetful in my daily activities’ relate to the personality traits of inattention and statements such as ‘I do things without thinking’ relate to the trait of impulsivity. There were 29 statements in total, 15 statements relating to inattention and 14 to impulsivity. The statement were rated individually by the participants on a six-point Linkert’s scale; 1 – Disagree strongly; 2 – Disagree; 3 – Disagree more than agree; 4 – Agree more than disagree; 5 – Agree and 6 – Agree strongly.DesignThe experiment used correlational design to explore the relationships among performance on Stroop tasks and scores taken from self-report questionnaires for the personality traits of impulsivity and inattention.
ProcedureFirstly, the participants worked in pairs; one of them undertook the task whilst the other timed the partner’s performance, then they exchanged roles. The first condition was the Stroop 1 task, in which ‘xxx’ signs were intermittently presented in seven different ink colours. Subjects were timed with stop watches how quickly they could name the colours correctly. Next the Stroop 2 condition was presented, in which colour-words incongruent with the colour print were presented and the participants were timed how quickly they could name the colour of the words. By the end of the first part of this experiment each participant had two times with millisecond accuracy.Secondly, the participants were asked to work alone and fill out the NEO-FFI Personality Traits Questionnaire.
Participants used a 1-6 scoring scale to rate each statement, which were related to either inattention or impulsivity. At the end, participants were asked to add up their scores given to certain question numbers, therefore they all gained two score numbers, one for inattention and one for impulsivity.The data was analysed by SPSS using the parametric Pearson’s r and the non-parametric Spearman’s Rho.ResultsPrior to the correlational analysis of data certain descriptive statistical analysis were conducted and demonstrated on histograms to observe the nature of the underlying sampling distribution in the cases of each of the four variables. Both Stroop 1 and Stroop 2 conditions showed considerable skewness due to two outliers. As the population of the sample is small (54) and both scores were inexplicably low, to avoid counter-productive distortion, the scores of these two participants’ were taken out of the data set. Following this, descriptive statistics were used again to obtain values for skewness and kurtosis and decide on the nature of the underlying sampling distributions for the variables.