Contextual influences on the sequential congruency effect

Psychon Bull Rev. 2014 Feb;21(1):155-62. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0473-5.


The sequential congruency effect (SCE) refers to the reduction in the size of the congruency effect following incongruent, relative to congruent, trials. Prior evidence indicated that the SCE does not generalize across tasks or different conflict-producing feature dimensions. We present results from a Stroop task showing that when the local list context is such that all colors and words appear in the same proportion of congruent trials, the SCE is present, but when those same items vary in the proportions congruent, the SCE is absent. We suggest that if stimuli are sufficiently consistent in the informativeness of their dimensions for the responses, individuals will attempt to track such information and weight the dimensions accordingly. In this way, the SCE reflects sequential adjustments to the weights given to individual stimulus dimensions in an attempt to track this information.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Stroop Test*
  • Young Adult