Modified Stroop Task Evaluating Fifth Graders
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
BARNETT, A. K. (2003). Modified Stroop Task Evaluating Fifth Graders. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Modified Stroop Task Evaluating Fifth Graders
Missouri Western State University PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
The purpose of this study is to identify whether or not there was a significant gender difference among fifth graders when performing the modified Stroop test. Pervious studies have indicated that boys and girls are extremely similar when performing cognitive tasks. Thirty-five participants from a fifth grade class were a part of the modified Stroop test. A significant difference was found with boys performing the Stroop test slower than girls. There was no significant difference with errors.

The famous “Stroop Effect” is named after J. Ridley Stroop who discovered this strange phenomenon in the 1930’s (DeSoto, 2001). The original Stroop task is a psychological test of our mental energy and flexibility (Monahan, 2001). For most people it is difficult to not quickly read the word “tree.” Most people are so capable at reading printed words that they cannot easily ignore them. This tendency to quickly read a word is used in the Stroop Task. Current research on the Stroop task emphasizes the interference that automatic processing of words has on the more mentally “effortful” task of just naming the colors (Butcher, 2000). The task of making an appropriate response, when given two conflicting signals, has tentatively been located in part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. This region lies between the right and left halves of the frontal portion part of the brain. It is involved in a wide range of thought processes and emotional responses. Therefore, there is going to be different thought processes and emotional responses when it comes to each individual. Research finds that boys and girls are overwhelmingly alike in their cognitive abilities (Brannon, 2002). Few gender differences even exist in the various types of learning and memory. Girls seem more likely to report that they used the strategy of learning landmarks on a route; boys were more likely to report that they used a spatial orientation strategy. Some boys and girls use the strategy more typical of the other gender. The development of cognitive abilities occurs as children mature and interacts with the world, forming an increasingly complex and accurate understanding of their bodies and the world. When it comes to verbal performance girls and women have some advantage. These advantages include the rapidity and proficiency with which girls acquire language compared to boys, an advantage that girls maintain throughout grade school (Moreno, 1999). However, boys have more advantage over girls when it comes to reading skills and verbal reasoning. That raised a question when performing such tests as the Stroop Test. But other studies have proven that provide real biological differences that can make boys more impulsive, more vulnerable to benign neglect, less efficient classroom-learners (Mulrine, 2001). The primary purpose of this study was to identify whose role in gender performed better, when we modified the Stroop Test. Specifically the modified Stroop Test is to show a significant difference between boys and girls. It has been suggested by previous research that an upward comparison explains gender differences when performing the Stroop Test. This study will help to clarify the existence of the above relationship. Additionally, the study will attempt to show a significant difference with a specific gender. Piaget believed that once children reach cognitive maturity, at around age 11 or 12 years, they no longer have any cognitive limitations on their understanding, and since the study consists of that age range, finally we will hope to assist with knowing what gender is more developed in areas of abilities with the modified Stroop Test.


Fifth grade students from a private local grade school are going to participate in the modified Stroop task (See Appendix) and it is not yet known whether they will receive extra credit for participating.

To manipulate the independent variable we modified the original Stroop Task into a test that would relate to the grade chosen. Then the results of the test will be compared by gender.

Each participant will be asked to take the modified Stroop test by reading the first column and reading the color associated with the word of another color then the participant will be asked to read the word of a color in the second column and the participants will be timed as well as number of errors counted for. After the data is collected from the fifth graders, we will compare the results from those of the female aspect and the male aspect of the study. The subjects will be numbered one or two depending on male or female.

A 2 x 2 mixed design ANOVA was calculated to examine the effects of the task itself and gender on errors. A non significant gender x task interaction was present (F(1,1)=.034, p>.05). The main effect for the task was significant (F(1,1)=9.416, p>.05). With the Stroop Task having more errors than the normal test. The main effect for gender was not sig. (F(1,33)=.034, p>.05). A second 2 x 2 mixed design ANOVA was calculated to examine the effects of the task and gender on time. A significant gender x task interaction was present (F(1,1)=42.627, p>.05). The main effect for the time was significant (F(1, 33)=5.343, p>.05). With the Stroop Task taking more time with boys than the normal test given. The main effect for gender was significant (F(1, 33)=5.343, p>.05). The average time for females for the Stroop Test was 11.074 seconds and average time for the normal test was 5.1665 seconds. The average time for the boys for the Stroop Test was 17.7233 and for the normal test 5.3407 seconds. For females, the average number of errors performing the Stroop Test was .65 and for the normal test there were no errors present. For the boys, the average number of error performing the Stroop Test was .7333 and for the normal test there were also no errors present.

The findings of this study were that there was no correlation with gender differences with the errors made on the Stroop test. We also found that there was a significant difference with the rate of the test performed. The boys were much slower than the girls when taking the Stroop test. Our study was consistent with other findings saying that girls usually have a better time when performing the Stroop test. Many different things could have altered the results of this study. We did not considered if some of the boys were color blind or not, or how intelligent each student was. It is possible that if we were to do this same study again and did the exact same procedure we could get different results. The time of day could have made a difference in the child’s performance meaning how well the student could read or comprehend.

Brannon, L. (2002). Gender psychological perspectives. Library of Congress

Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 3, 90.

Butcher, J. (2000). Scientists take first steps towards understanding cognitive control. Lancet, 355, 2055.

Colley, A. (2003). School subject preferences: Age and gender differences revisited. Educational Studies, 29, 59.

DeSoto, C. (2001). When in doubt, do it both ways: Brain evidence of the simultaneous

activation of conflicting motor responses in a spatial stroop task. Journal of

Cognitive Neuroscience, 13, 523.

Monahan, J. (2001). Coloring single stroop elements: Reducing automatically or slower color processing? Journal of General Psychology, 128, 98.

Moreno, R. (1999). Gender differences in responding to open-ended problem solving

questions. Learning and Individual Differences, 11, 355.

Mulrine, A. (2001). Are boys the weaker sex? U.S. News and World Report, 131, 40.

Wright, I. (2003). A new stroop-like measure of inhibitory function development:

Typical developmental trends. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and

Allied Disciplines, 44, 561.

Subject #

Modified Stroop Test

Blue Green Green OrangePurple OrangeGreen BlueRed Red Gray GrayRed BlueBlue Purple

Time/Seconds______ Time/Seconds______

Errors___________ Errors_________

Submitted 12/4/2003 12:01:43 PM
Last Edited 12/4/2003 12:56:19 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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