Most of us believe we can control what pieces of information influence our decisions. But when it comes down to it, can we? The Stroop Test suggests: no. Try it for yourself.
MacLeod, C. M. (1991). Half a century of research on the Stroop Effect: An integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 109(2), 163-203.
Frank Stanton, the then-president of CBS, said of the Kennedy-Nixon debate: “Kennedy was bronzed beautifully… Nixon looked like death.” The legendary debate changed the face of political media strategy, but was it warranted? A 2003 study by political scientist James Druckman suggests, yes. People were significantly more likely to think Kennedy “won” the debate when they watched it versus listened to it.
Colors are one thing, but our decisions can also be influenced by something as insignificant as a single letter – whether we’re aware of it or not. Watch this video about how José Zamora dropped a single letter to gain a title, and read more about the research that shows how names can Stroop us.
Baumeister, R. F., & Tierney, J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. Penguin.
Goldin, C., & Rouse, C. (2000). Orchestrating impartiality: The impact of” blind” auditions on female musicians. American Economic Review, 90(4), 715-741.
Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18(6), 643.
Strooped! was created and developed by Mahzarin Banaji, Olivia Kang, Kirsten Morehouse, and Evan Younger. Special thanks to the Bok Center’s Learning Lab Studio at Harvard University. Support for Outsmarting Human Minds comes from PwC, Johnson & Johnson, and Harvard University.
Narration by Olivia Kang
Animation & Editing by Evan Younger
Artwork by Olivia Kang
Assistant: Theodora Mautz
Music by J.S. Bach (performed by Advent Chamber Orchestra) and Olive Musique, Ben Beiny, Immersive Music, and Allegory Musia via Premium Beat
John F. Kennedy footage by CBS via JFK Library
© 2018 President and Fellows of Harvard College