Color-object interference in young children: A Stroop effect in children 3½-6½ years old

Cogn Dev. 2005 Jun;20(2):256-278. doi: 10.1016/j.cogdev.2005.04.001.


The Stroop color-word task cannot be administered to children who are unable to read. However, our color-object Stroop task can. One hundred and sixty-eight children of 3½-6½ years (50% female; 24 children at each 6-month interval) were shown line drawings of familiar objects in a color that was congruent (e.g., an orange carrot), incongruent (e.g., a green carrot), or neutral (for objects having no canonical color [e.g., a red book]), and abstract shapes, each drawn in one of six colors. Half the children were asked to name the color in which each object was drawn, and half were to name each object. Children's predominant tendency was to say what the object was; when instructed to do otherwise they were slower and less accurate. Children were faster and more accurate at naming the color of a stimulus when the form could not be named (abstract shape) than when it could, even if in its canonical color. The heightened interference to color-naming versus object-naming was not due to lack of familiarity with color names or group differences: Children in the color condition were as fast and accurate at naming the colors of abstract shapes as were children in the form condition at naming familiar objects.