Over the last twenty years, a large number of different – so-called multi-stage – accounts have challenged the rather simplistic view of Stroop interference as resulting from a single conflict (i.e., response conflict; for examples of multi-stage accounts see Augustinova & Ferrand, 2014b; De Houwer, 2003; Goldfarb & Henik, 2007; Levin & Tzelgov, 2016; MacLeod & MacDonald, 2000; Monsell et al., 2001; Zhang & Kornblum, 1998). According to these accounts, along with the response conflict (RC), either a task conflict (TC) or a semantic conflict (SC) also contributes to the overall Stroop interference. Therefore, these accounts can thus be roughly divided into two types: TC-RC vs. SC-RC accounts (Augustinova, Silvert, Spatola & Ferrand, 2017).
Despite a bulk of empirical evidence in favor of different TC-RC vs. SC-RC accounts, many researchers and practitioners who are interested in Stroop interference itself and/or in its measurement still seem to be unaware that it goes far beyond a mere response competition and that it should therefore be measured and interpreted accordingly. Augustinova et al. (2017) consider that there are three likely reasons for the current state of art. The first lies in the flagrant lack of consensus between the different multi-stage accounts concerning the types of conflict, and thus the components, that Stroop interference actually involves (see above). The second reason is linked to the lack of knowledge about the characteristics of these different conflicts (namely TC and SC). For instance, the extent to which their respective detection vs. resolution (e.g., Coderre et al., 2011) is permeable to cognitive control – an issue of considerable interest to our scientific community (in its broadest sense) – is still unknown. Indeed, the possibility of cognitive control is generally simply inferred from the reduction of the overall Stroop interference (measured by mean reaction times, RTs), even though its existence (or the lack thereof) should logically be demonstrated directly (i.e., at the level of each conflict and by means of more refined measures allowing to assess their respective time course). The third, and perhaps final reason, resides in the current lack of an experimental protocol that is not only able to disentangle the different components of Stroop interference and measure their modulation, but is also simple enough to be administered in both lab (i.e., research) and field (i.e., clinical) settings (e.g. Augustinova et al., 2016 for a discussion of this issue). Consequently, the successful PhD candidate will conduct research attempting to tackle these issues of both theoretical and applied importance together. To this end, this research departs from an integrative perspective considering that all the conflicts selectively included in different multi-stage accounts (TC, SC and RC) contribute to the overall Stroop interference (Augustinova et al., 2017 for further theoretical reasoning). More specifically, a series of empirical studies will attempt to capture their specific contribution in two more fine-graded Stroop paradigms administered in both younger and older participants. RT measurements will be supplemented and refined by electrophysiological recordings (event-related potentials, ERPs; and electromyography, EMG). This research project will benefit from the complementarity of expertise and resources of the two graduate advisors: Maria Augustinova and Virginie Beaucousin. MA is a cognitive psychologist that is an expert in cognitive processes involved in the Stroop task whereas Virginie Beaucousin is a neuroscientist that is an expert in ERPs and EMG measures for the collection of which the Centre de Recherche sur les Fonctionnements et Dysfonctionnements Psychologique (Rouen) is already equipped for.
Key-words: Aging, Attentional Selectivity, Semantic conflict, Single-letter coloring, Stroop interference, Response conflict, EMG, ERP.
The PhD position is for 3 years starting from October 2017 and taking place at CRFDP of Rouen Normandie University. The grant (“contrat doctoral”) is funded by the Région Normandie.
Applicants must have a solid background in behavioral and/or electrophysiological measures. Speaking and writing in English is also required.
To apply contact M. Augustinova (Maria.Augustinova@univ-rouen.fr) and V. Beaucousin (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a detailed CV, an application letter in which you explain the reasons of your interest in this project, the Master (2) thesis along with the name and contact of one or two references. The application is open until 14th of June 2017.
Augustinova, M., & Ferrand, L. (2014b). Automaticity of Word Reading: Evidence from the Semantic Stroop Paradigm. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 343-348.
Augustinova, M., Silvert, L., Spatola, N., & Ferrand, L. (2017). Further investigation of distinct components of Stroop interference and of their reduction by short response-stimulus intervals. Acta Psychologica. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2017.03.009