The Stroop Incongruity Effect: Congruity Relationship Reaches Beyond the Stroop Task

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Stroop objects are defined by the existence of a logical relationship, congruity or incongruity, between their constituent dimensions. The Stroop effect is the difference in performance between congruent and incongruent stimuli with respect to one of these dimensions. However, the pair of Stroop generating dimensions does not exhaust all dimensions of the object. In this study, we examined performance with respect to a third non-Stroop dimension of an otherwise Stroop object, a dimension that is unrelated to those generating the Stroop effect. We witnessed a reversal of the usual Stroop pattern with respect to the third dimension, the Incongruity Effect. Performance was superior with Stroop-incongruent stimuli despite the fact that congruity was defined with respect to another pair of dimensions. In 8 experiments, we first documented the Incongruity Effect and then tested possible explanations. We conclude that the best account is associated with the notion that Stroop-incongruent stimuli engender negative affect that people strive to swiftly terminate.

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