Stroop-Like Interference in a Match-to-Sample Task: Further Evidence for Semantic Competition?

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Learning and Motivation





Two explanations have emerged to account for the interference of word reading on color naming observed in the canonical Stroop task. Semantic competition suggests that interference results from competing semantic processes associated with the word and color dimensions of the stimulus. Response competition suggests that interference results from competition in articulating the word versus the color dimension. Recently, Sturz et al. (2013) attempted to reproduce a Stroop-like phenomenon within the context of a delayed match-to-sample (DMTS) task. Importantly, this task format provided an opportunity to isolate semantic versus response competition, through the manipulation of the congruence of the bi-dimensional samples’ font color and word meaning and the relatedness of the foil to the irrelevant sample dimension. Findings indicated that incongruent samples produced Stroop-like interference, regardless of whether the foil was related with the irrelevant sample dimension or not, which was interpreted as support for semantic competition within the DMTS task. The present experiments further examine Stroop-like interference in the MTS task by manipulating the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). In Experiment 1, we presented the Stroop sample and response options sequentially, but without a retention interval, and in Experiment 2, we presented the sample and response options simultaneously. The results indicated increased reaction times on incongruent trials, independent of whether or not the foil was related to the irrelevant sample dimension. An asymmetrical Stroop-like pattern of interference, where the sample word interfered with color matching but not the reverse, was only observed in Experiment 2. Collectively, these results suggest that empirical and theoretical findings obtained in the traditional Stroop task may generalize to the DMTS task