The Stroop task is a seminal measure of cognitive control. Successful performance of the task requires the ability to overcome automatic tendencies to respond in accordance with current goals. On each trial of the task, a color word (e.g., “red”, “blue”) is presented in one of multiple ink colors (e.g., blue, red). Participants are instructed to respond based upon the ink color of the word, not the identity of the word itself. When the color and the word are congruent (e.g., “red” in red ink), the natural tendency to read the word facilitates performance, resulting in fast and accurate responding. When the color and the word are incongruent (e.g., “red” in blue ink), the strong, natural tendency to read must be overcome to respond to the ink color. The main dependent measure in the Stroop task is the “Stroop Effect,” which is the degree of slowing and the reduction in accuracy for incongruent relative to congruent trials.
Goals often diverge from natural, automatic tendencies. The Stroop task is a measure that theorists propose captures the ability to overcome automatic tendencies to respond in accordance with current goals (Stroop, 1935) and/or slowing due to parallel processing of multiple stimulus dimensions (MacLeod, 1991). The former construct, in particular, is thought to be an essential component of self-regulation. Cognitive control related to processing goal-relevant vs goal-irrelevant information has been proposed as an important possible mechanism of behavior change (Hofmann, Schmeichel, & Baddeley, 2012).
[+] PMCID, PUBMED ID, or CITATION
Text Citation: Hofmann, W., Schmeichel, B. J., & Baddeley, A. D. (2012). Executive functions and self-regulation. Trends in cognitive sciences, 16(3), 174-180.
Text Citation: MacLeod, C. M. (1991). Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: An integrative review. Psychological bulletin, 109(2), 163-203.
Text Citation: Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643-662.
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The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing measures to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Within the SOBC Measures Repository, researchers have access to measures of mechanistic targets that have been (or are in the processing of being) validated by SOBC Research Network Members and other experts in the field. The SOBC Validation Process includes three important stages of evaluation for each proposed measure: Identification, Measurement, and Influence.
The first stage of validation requires a measure to be Identified within the field; there must be theoretical support for the specific measure of the proposed mechanistic target or potential mechanism of behavior change. This evidence may include references for the proposed measure, or theoretical support for the construct that the proposed measure is intended to assess. The second stage of validation requires demonstration that the level and change in level of the chosen mechanistic target can be Measured with the proposed measure (assay). For example, if the proposed measure is a questionnaire, the score on the measure should indicate the activity of the target process, and it must have strong psychometric properties. The third stage of validation requires demonstration that the measure can be Influenced; there must be evidence that the measured target is malleable and responsive to manipulation. Evidence relating to each stage includes at least one peer-reviewed publication or original data presentation (if no peer-reviewed research is available to support the claim) and is evaluated by SOBC Research Network Members and experts in the field.
Once a measure has gone through these three stages, it will then either be Validated or Not validated according to SOBC Research Network standards. If a measure is Validated, then change in the measured target was reliably associated with Behavior Change. If a measure is Not validated, then change in the measured target was not reliably associated with Behavior Change. Why would we share measures that are not validated? The SOBC Research Network values open, rigorous, and transparent research. Our goal is to make meaningful progress and develop replicable and effective interventions in behavior change science. Therefore, the SOBC sees value in providing other researchers in the field with information regarding measures that work and measures that fall short for specific targets. Further, a measure that is not validated for one target in one population may be validated in another target or population.
Want to learn more? For any questions regarding the SOBC Validation Process or Measures Repository, please email email@example.com.
Has the mechanism been identified as a potential target for behavior change? This section summarizes theoretical support for the mechanism.
Have the psychometric properties of this measure been assessed? This section includes information such as content validity, internal consistency, and test-retest reliability.
Has a study manipulation led to change in the mechanism? This section addresses evidence that this measure is modifiable by experimental manipulation or clinical intervention.
Has a change in this mechanism been associated with behavior change? This section addresses empirical evidence that causing change in the measure reliably produces subsequent behavior change.