Exploring the temporal dynamics of social facilitation in the Stroop task


  • Sharma Dinkar
  • Booth Rob
  • Brown Rupert
  • Huguet Pascal

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The importance of social context in affecting attention has recently been highlighted by the finding that the presence of a passive, nonevaluative confederate can improve selective attention. The underlying mechanism, however, remains unclear. In this paper, we argue that social facilitation can be caused by distractor inhibition. Two distinct sources of evidence are provided from an experiment employing the Stoop task with and without social presence. First, analysis of the response time (RT) distribution indicates that interference is reduced at relatively long RTs. This is consistent with an inhibitory mechanism, whose effects build up slowly. Further support is provided by showing that social facilitation is prevented by using short response-to-stimulus intervals that are thought to reduce cognitive control processes.

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