abstract James Schmidt

James Schmidt (Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University)

The conflict adaptation illusion: Reassessing proportion congruent and Gratton effects

The notion that participants are able to engage cognitive control to adapt to conflict experienced in Stroop and similar paradigms by adjusting attention away from a conflicting stimulus is an extremely popular and long-standing belief in cognitive psychology. The two pieces of evidence most frequently used to argue for conflict adaptation are the Gratton and proportion congruent (PC) effects. Although the conflict adaptation explanations of Gratton and PC effects are intuitively quite appealing, I will argue that both of these effects are actually driven by task confounds entirely unrelated to conflict adaptation. I will further argue that failure to find evidence for conflict adaptation after controlling for such confounds suggests that conflict adaptation (at least within the context of these sorts of performance tasks) is an illusion. Conflict adaptation is not real.