April 02, 2011

Test Your Brain Response

The following is a test developed by John Ridley Stroop in 1935.

The first phase is to identify the name of the color on each words below:


How fast can you identify the name of the color? Usually, especially since the words are already associated with the color, we can identify it in less than 0.2 seconds. Try that again. Make sure we are familiar with the colors and the name of each color.

Now, let's do the second phase. The instruction is the same: Identify the name of the color on each of these words below (different set of words):

Did it take you longer than 0.2 seconds? This second part is harder because the words and the actual colors are not associated with each other. Our brain is programmed to process the semantic of the words and create mental pictures of these worded colors, overriding the actual color of the words. Re-writing these mental pictures requires extra processing time, therefore, it takes us longer than 0.2 seconds to process these second set.

Colors are a simple concept, and it is still easy for the brain to re-write its mental pictures. Life is a bit more complex. A well-rooted belief or 'mental pictures' about a semantic of a name of an object might prevent us from analyzing the actual merit of the actual object. For example: if we experience (personally or through observation) a lot of business people with low integrity, our brain will associate the term 'business people' with mental pictures of 'liars, cheaters, and cold-blooded killers', regardless of the truth.

So how should we avoid this brain trap? Avoid giving names or terms to an object. Or if we have to give names, make sure we are aware that it is just something we should give, it is not what the object is.

Tough? Absolutely. Is it worth the struggle to resist? Absolutely.

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