The elusive link between conflict and conflict adaptation

Psychol Res. 2009 Nov;73(6):794-802. doi: 10.1007/s00426-008-0191-1. Epub 2008 Nov 26.


A core tenet of the original conflict-monitoring model is that regulation is triggered automatically when conflict is present and that the same regulation mechanism explains both trial-to-trial adaptation effects as well as effects of block-wise conflict manipulations. We present here results from two experiments using the Stroop task that show (a) that adaptation effects in the absence of response repetitions may occur only at the beginning of testing and that (b) robust block-wise effects can be found even in the absence of trial-by-trial effects. Furthermore, we show that the failure to eliminate target-to-distractor repetitions can produce artificial trial-to-trial adaptation effects. Based on the evidence of a weak link between conflict and conflict adaptation, we argue that a wider range of possible reasons for conflict adaptation effects needs to be taken into consideration.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attention*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Reaction Time
  • Stroop Test*