The aim of this study was to discover the difference in the ability of males and females to control their attentional processes. It was expected, due to previous research mentioned above, that females will complete the Stroop Test with quicker times and that they will therefore be better at controlling their attentional processes. Therefore, the alternative hypothesis for this study is that “the time taken to complete the Stroop test by female participants will be quicker than the time taken to complete the Stroop test by male participants.”
Procedure The study used 13 male and 13 female participants between the ages of 17 and 18 that were selected using Opportunity Sampling in the 6th Form Study Area at Sandown High School on the Isle of Wight. Participants were asked to complete the Stroop Test (set up on PowerPoint) and the time taken to correctly complete it was recorded.
Findings The significance level used for this study was p?0.025 as the study used a directional hypothesis. The Critical Value was 45 and the Observed Value is 63.5, thus meaning that the difference between the males and females was not significant.
Conclusion As the difference was not significant, the null hypothesis that “there will not be a significant difference between the time taken to complete the Stroop test by female participants and the time taken to complete the Stroop test by male participants” was accepted. This means that there was no difference in the ability of males and females to control their attentional processing, and therefore multitask. Introduction Attention is a major part of everyday life, and there are several types of attention that human beings make use of, these are; focused auditory attention, focused visual attention and divided attention.
Schneider and Shiffrin (1977) presented the automacity model for attentional processing. This stated that there were two types of divided attention; controlled and automatic. Automatic attentional processing does not require conscious redirecting of attention as thus is a fast process that is difficult to modify, on the other hand, controlled attentional processing involves the conscious redirecting of attention and is therefore a slow process, this redirecting of attention is more commonly known as multitasking.
Meyer (2003) found that “The two sexes typically come out about the same, on average” (Shellenbarger) when performing actions that require them to multitask, a view that is backed up by Dr. M. Just’s research using brain mapping (2001)1 However, Halpern (2000) disagrees, he studied MRIs of both women and men, and found that women have a larger Corpus Callossum2 this therefore means that women are able to synthesise the two halves of their brain better than men and thus should be able to multitask better. Equally, Gur et al. (1999) studied MRIs and found that there is more white matter in the male brain than in the female brain but that the female brain is made up of proportionally more grey matter which is responsible for processing information, thus giving them an even greater advantage when it comes to controlling their attentional processing.
The Stroop Test is an example of a use of controlled attentional processing. The test consists of the names of colours written in an opposing colour, the aim of the participants being to name the colour of the text and not just read the word that is printed. The participants completing the Stroop Test will experience cognitive interference as their brains will automatically attempt to process the data semantically (by reading the printed word) as this is the norm in society. This means that the participants will therefore have to divert their attention to focus on the visual data (the colour of the ink) and state it out loud, making use of their ability to control attentional processing. The Stroop Test can consequently be seen as an effective way to measure the ability of males and females to divert their attention and will show whether females are more adept at multitasking when faced with two cognitive tasks.
Formulation of Aims
The aim of this study is to discover the difference in the ability of males and females to control their attentional processes. It is expected, due to previous research mentioned above, that females will complete the Stroop Test with quicker times and that they will therefore be better at controlling their attentional processes.