Essay on controlled and automatic processes

Submitted By madsuto
Words: 1880
Pages: 8

The aim of this research is to determine the different speeds it takes to complete a controlled process in comparison to an automatic process. It is hypothesised that it will take year twelve students from Dromana College a longer period of time to process and resight incongruent information (controlled process) compared to year twelve Dromana College VCE students who are exposed to congruent information (automatic process). Using convenience sampling, two year twelve VCE psychology are selected as the sample, composing of a total fourteen participants aged sixteen to eighteen, four male and ten female. The participants are required to complete four research conditions which involves processing either congruent or incongruent information. The time taken to successfully complete each condition is recorded. Through completing the experiment, it was shown that all participants took significantly longer to successfully process and complete the condition involved with incongruent information, where the mean score was thirteen seconds, compared to the other three conditions which involved congruent information, where the mean score of the three conditions combined equals 6.2 seconds. Because of the significant difference in time, it is concluded that controlled processes take a longer time to complete than automatic processes.

Controlled and automatic processes refer to the alternating levels of consciousness required to complete a task, where consciousness is a state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings ( A controlled process generally involves conscious, alert awareness and mental effort, in which the individual actively focuses their attention on achieving a particular goal whereas automatic processes usually require little conscious awareness and mental effort, minimal attention and does not interfere with the performance of other activities (Grivas 2013). People can also distinguish between controlled and automatic processes by considering the level of attention needed for a particular task. For example, many psychologists propose that controlled processes require selective attention (attending to one stimulus and ignoring others) whereas automatic processes may only require divided attention (can distribute attention between two or more stimuli simultaneously).
Essentially, controlled processes are seen to be harder to perform or complete than automatic processes, as they require a higher level of conscious awareness and focused attention.
Previous research which has distinctively showed a difference between controlled and automatic processes includes the ‘Stroop effect’. American psychologist John Ridley Stroop conducted an experiment in 1935, which demonstrated the different speeds needed to perform a controlled process in comparison to an automatic process. In his original experiment, Stroop had his participants complete all of two conditions. In the first condition, Stroop recorded the time taken and the number of errors made by participants when they read a word list of colours printed in black ink. In the second condition, the task was the exact same expect word list of colours was incongruent – the colour they were identifying was different to the colour of ink it was printed in. From this original experiment, Stroop completed two more but with slight variations, with each experiments results showing that participants took significantly longer to identify an incongruent colour than to identify a colour under any other condition (Grivas, 2013). Stroop’s experiment has been replicated many times since 1935, with many variations to the tasks. These experiments have consistently produced similar results (Grivas. 2013). (For more on the Stroop effect refer to appendix A).
Fundamentally, the purpose of this research is to develop a further understanding of how and why it takes a longer period of time to perform a task that requires a larger amount…