Stroop Effect: Behind The Movie Saattai

Have you ever watched the movie Saattai? If yes, do you remember this particular scene – where Dayalan ask his students to read the name of the chalk colour instead of the colour name written using the coloured chalk? If you haven’t watched it or you don’t remember the scene, here is a small activity for you:

Name the colours of the following words in the above image. DO NOT READ the words, rather say the colour of the word. For example, if the word “BLUE” is printed in red colour, you should say “RED”, now say the colours as fast as you can. It is not as easy as you think!

This is called The Stroop Effect, this simple phenomenon reveals about our mind – how the brain processes information, there is a conflict between two sources of information, you could easily read the words and not the colours which means there is an increase in cognitive load (our brains work hard to resolve the required difference). Interestingly this test would be easier for very young children who can identify colours and not read words when compared to older children or adults. This can be used to measure a person’s selective attention capacity and skills to evaluate overall executive processing abilities.

The Indian system of education pushes the students to learn, read, and write at a very early age which becomes automated. Most of the students aren’t much aware of their conscious effort, thinking, or attention. A small activity like this demands more mental processes and therefore suddenly when you were asked to name the color of the word rather than reading it, it demanded intellectual working, which consumes more amount of time.

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