So Not An Expert

Messing With Words, You: How in the World Can We Read This?

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In case you have not read or seen this mind-blowing paragraph, have a look....

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Isn't that fascinating? So easy to read, yet so wrong.

Why is it then that this piece is so much harder for us to read? (Say the colors, not read the words.)

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The Stroop Test by John Ridley Stroop in 1935


Turns out, there's a perfectly logical explanation, according to Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a neuroscientist (Research Associate Professor) and Director of Education and Outreach at University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials in Seattle, Washington.

The words themselves have a strong influence over your ability to say the color. The interference between the different information (what the words say and the color of the words) your brain receives causes a problem. There are two theories that may explain the Stroop effect:

  1. Speed of Processing Theory: the interference occurs because words are read faster than colors are named.
  2. Selective Attention Theory: the interference occurs because naming colors requires more attention than reading words.

Guess our minds work more than we think.

Feeling confident? Go ahead and time yourself in this interactive Stroop test. Good luck and don't forget to share your results below!

If you liked this, you might also enjoy, 60 Embarrassing Ways to Butcher the English Language: Isn't Spelling Important Anymore? and Easy Grammar: Its vs. It's.

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3 Comments

Jackie Tithof Steere said:

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I was a few seconds slower in the second test 23.87 vs. 25 ish.

Awesome Barb said:

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I was about a 7 second difference. 12.5 vs. 19.8.

Jackie Tithof Steere said:

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Far faster than mine. Great!

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