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Hypothesis and Theory ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01683

Reclaiming the Stroop Effect Back from Control to Input-Driven Attention and Perception

  • 1School of Psychology, The Gershon Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • 2Open University of Israel, Israel

According to a growing consensus, the Stroop effect is understood as a phenomenon of conflict and cognitive control. A tidal wave of recent research alleges that incongruent Stroop stimuli generate conflict, which is then managed and resolved by top-down cognitive control. We argue otherwise: Control studies fail to account for major Stroop results obtained over a century-long history of research. We list some of the most compelling developments and show that no control account can serve as a viable explanation for major Stroop-phenomena and that there exist more parsimonious explanations for other Stroop-related phenomena. Against a wealth of studies and emerging consensus, we posit that data-driven selective attention best accounts for the gamut of existing Stroop results. The case for data-driven attention is not new: A mere twenty-some years ago the Stroop effect was considered "the gold standard" of attention (MacLeod, 1992). We identify four pitfalls plaguing control studies of the Stroop effect and show that the notion of top-down control is gratuitous. Looking at the Stroop effect from a historical perspective, we argue that the recent paradigm change from attention to control is unwarranted. Applying Occam’s razor, the effects marshaled in support of the control view are better explained by a selectivity of attention account. Moreover, many Stroop results, ignored in the control literature, are inconsistent with any control account of the effect.

Keywords: Stroop, Control, Selective attention bias, contingency, stimulus factors

Received: 08 May 2019; Accepted: 03 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Ludovic Ferrand, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

Reviewed by:

Derek Besner, University of Waterloo, Canada
James R. Schmidt, Université de Bourgogne, France  

Copyright: © 2019 Algom and Chajut. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Daniel Algom, School of Psychology, The Gershon Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, algomd@tauex.tau.ac.il