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Stroop Effect

In this fun demonstration, students try and consciously change the interpretation the brain naturally wants to give them.

Our experiences in the past help us look for patterns and make assumptions in the present. This demonstration is known as the Stroop Effect, named after its discoverer, J. Ridley Stroop. Your natural tendency is to read words, not report the colour of the ink in which the word is written, which is why it's difficult for you to say the colour instead of the word itself. Even if the Stroop words were upside down, the brain would still recognize the shapes as letters and group them together as words to read.


  • Explain that the brain makes its interpretations based on past experiences.


  • Per Class or Group:
    Stroop Effect template, printed on either an overhead sheet or on a large sheet of paper
    overhead projector (optional)
    stopwatch (optional)

Key Questions

  • Why do you think it is so difficult to report the colour the word is written in?

What To Do

  1. Challenge the class to read the names of the colours out loud together. This should be fairly easy.
  2. Challenge the students to name the colour that the words are written in. For example, if the word “green” is written in purple, the class would name the colour “purple”.
  3. If using stations, have students use a stopwatch to time themselves reading the words versus naming the colours and compare the results.

Teacher Tip: For better effect, print out two copies of the template (1 in black/white, and 1 in colour) and run two rounds of this demonstration.


  • Turn the words upside down and name the colours. Does this change the results? Why?