A Reverse Stroop Task with Mouse Tracking

Author ORCID Identifier

Sara InceraORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-9124-9204



Document Type


Publication Date



In a reverse Stroop task, observers respond to the meaning of a color word irrespective of the color in which the word is printed—for example, the word red may be printed in the congruent color (red), an incongruent color (e.g., blue), or a neutral color (e.g., white). Although reading of color words in this task is often thought to be neither facilitated by congruent print colors nor interfered with incongruent print colors, this interference has been detected by using a response method that does not give any bias in favor of processing of word meanings or processing of print colors. On the other hand, evidence for the presence of facilitation in this task has been scarce, even though this facilitation is theoretically possible. By modifying the task such that participants respond to a stimulus color word by pointing to a corresponding response word on a computer screen with a mouse, the present study investigated the possibility that not only interference but also facilitation would take place in a reverse Stroop task. Importantly, in this study, participants’ responses were dynamically tracked by recording the entire trajectories of the mouse. Arguably, this method provided richer information about participants’ performance than traditional measures such as reaction time and accuracy, allowing for more detailed (and thus potentially more sensitive) investigation of facilitation and interference in the reverse Stroop task. These trajectories showed that the mouse’s approach toward correct response words was significantly delayed by incongruent print colors but not affected by congruent print colors, demonstrating that only interference, not facilitation, was present in the current task. Implications of these findings are discussed within a theoretical framework in which the strength of association between a task and its response method plays a critical role in determining how word meanings and print colors interact in reverse Stroop tasks.

Journal Title

Frontiers in Psychology

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