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01-04-2004 | Original Article | Uitgave 2-3/2004

Psychological Research 2-3/2004

Coloring an action: Intending to produce color events eliminates the Stroop effect

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2-3/2004
Bernhard Hommel


The implications of an ideomotor approach to action control were investigated. In Experiment 1, participants made manual responses to letter stimuli and they were presented with response-contingent color patches, i.e., colored action effects. This rendered stimuli of the same color as an action’s effect effective primes of that action, suggesting that bilateral associations were created between actions and the effects they produced. Experiment 2 combined this set-up with a manual Stroop task, i.e., participants responded to congruent, neutral, or incongruent color-word compounds. Standard Stroop effects were observed in a control group without action effects and in a group with target-incompatible action effects, but the reaction time Stroop effect was eliminated if actions produced target-compatible color effects (e.g., blue word→left key→blue patch). Experiment 3 did not replicate this interaction between target-effect compatibility and color-word congruency with color words as action effects, which rules out semantically based accounts. Theoretical implications for both action-effect acquisition and the Stroop effect are discussed. It is suggested that learning action effects, the features of which overlap with the target, allows and motivates people to recode their actions in ways that make them more stimulus-compatible. This provides a processing shortcut for translating the relevant stimulus into the correct response and, thus, shields processing from the impact of competing word distractors.

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