Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

An Investigation of the Stroop Effect among Deaf Signers in English and Japanese: Automatic Processing or Memory Retrieval?

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

An Investigation of the Stroop Effect among Deaf Signers in English and Japanese: Automatic Processing or Memory Retrieval?

Article excerpt

MOST STUDIES on the Stroop effect (unintentional automatic word processing) have been restricted to English speakers using vocal responses. Little is known about this effect with deaf signers. The study compared Stroop task responses among four different samples: deaf participants from a Japanese-language environment and from an English-language environment; and hearing individuals from Japan and from Australia. Color words were prepared in both English and Japanese and were presented in three conditions: congruent (e.g., the word red printed in red), incongruent (e.g., red printed in blue), and neutral. The magnitude of the effect was greater with the deaf participants than with the hearing participants. The deaf individuals experienced more interference in English than in Japanese.

Reading is a skill generally acquired early in life and used with ease on a daily basis. However, it presents many difficulties to the deaf (Conrad, 1972). For example, reading difficulties of deaf children generally have been attributed to problems concerning two of the most important requirements of the activity: the decoding process and general linguistic competence (King & Quigley, 1985).

As extensive practice leads to automatic processing (Logan, 1988), it is generally agreed that word reading in skilled readers is an automatic process. In the present article, unless otherwise stated, readers refers to hearing people who read. Automatic processing can be performed in two modes: intentional and unintentional. The fact that people cannot help but read when their eyes see print is an example of intentional automatic processing. People read color words presented in colored ink of a conflicting color (e.g., the word red printed in blue ink) more slowly than they read color words presented in either the conventional black ink or in the color of the word presented (e.g., red printed in red ink). The latter phenomenon, first demonstrated experimentally by J. R. Stroop in his classic 1935 test, is an example of unintentional automatic word processing. Unintentional automatic processing is referred to as autonomous in the literature (Zbrodoff & Logan, 1986). Autonomous processing in the domain of word reading, and the Stroop phenomenon in particular, is the defining feature of automaticity (Posner & Snyder, 1975). Although the Stroop effect has been replicated many times, it still lacks a clear explanation (Luo, 1999; MacLeod, 1991,1996).

Research on reading is dominated by two general models: the indirect model, in which word reading is believed to be phonologically mediated (e.g., Coltheart, 1977; Perfetti, Bell, & Delaney, 1988; H. Rubenstein, Lewis, & M. A, Rubenstein, 1971; Venezky, 1970), and the direct model, in which the reader is held to bypass the phonological route and access meaning directly (Stone & Van Orden, 1993). Of course, the question ofwbo is reading what influences the situation (Flaherty & Moran, 2001). For example, skilled readers can bypass the phonological route, while beginners tend to rely on phonological mediation (R. W. Baron & J. Baron, 1977). But what of the reading activities of special populations such as the deaf?

Deaf people appear to use a variety of codes, such as phonological (Hanson & Fowler, 1987; Leybaert & Alegria, 1990; Leybaert, Alegria, & Fonck, 1983; but see, for a contrasting viewpoint, Treiman & Hirsh-Pasek, 1983), visual (Flaherty, 1999; Fok, van Hoek, Mima, & Bellugi, 1991; Frumkin & Anisfeld, 1977; J. Locke & Y Locke, 1971), and sign (KyIe, 1981), when processing words. But how would they perform on the Stroop task? Would uhey be able to suppress one code to the advantage of their performance?

The instinct to read the words presented in the Stroop test is born out of the spelling-to-sou nd correspondence rules that characterize the reading of English (Van Orden, 1987). An important issue in this regard concerns the effect of response modality on Stroop task performance. …

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