Role of Phonology in Reading: A Stroop Effect Case Report With Japanese Scripts

June S. Levitt, Michiko Nakakita, William F. Katz


An experiment investigated the role of phonological activation in Japanese adults’ reading of ideograms (Kanji) and syllabic characters (Kana), using the Stroop effect. A group of 21 native speakers of Japanese completed color-naming (Stroop) and word-naming (reverse-Stroop) tasks with Kanji and Kana characters. A series of analyses contrasted the reaction time required for different script types; including Kanji color words, Kanji homophones, and Kana. On the hypothesis that a word’s pronunciation plays an important role in its semantic activation process, it was predicted that color-naming/word-reading interference and facilitation would be demonstrated for both the Kanji color words and Kanji homophones, with Kanji homophones showing somewhat reduced effects. The results showed robust color-naming (Stroop) patterns for the Kanji color words, significant effects for Kana, and no significant Stroop effects for the Kanji homophones. A word-reading (reverse-Stroop) task revealed uniform effects of interference with incongruent stimuli across the three script types. Taken together, the data suggest different processing routes may be accessed in color-naming and word-reading tasks. 


Stroop effect; Reverse-stroop effect; Japanese; Kanji; Kana; Phonology

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