Piéron's Law Holds During Stroop Conflict: Insights Into the Architecture of Decision Making


should be sent to Tom Stafford, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TP, UK. E-mail: t.stafford@shef.ac.uk


Piéron's Law describes the relationship between stimulus intensity and reaction time. Previously (Stafford & Gurney, 2004), we have shown that Piéron's Law is a necessary consequence of rise-to-threshold decision making and thus will arise from optimal simple decision-making algorithms (e.g., Bogacz, Brown, Moehlis, Holmes, & Cohen, 2006). Here, we manipulate the color saturation of a Stroop stimulus. Our results show that Piéron's Law holds for color intensity and color-naming reaction time, extending the domain of this law, in line with our suggestion of the generality of the processes that can give rise to Piéron's Law. In addition, we find that Stroop condition does not interact with the effect of color saturation; Stroop interference and facilitation remain constant at all levels of color saturation. An analysis demonstrates that this result cannot be accounted for by single-stage decision-making algorithms which combine all the evidence pertaining to a decision into a common metric. This shows that human decision making is not information-optimal and suggests that the generalization of current models of simple perceptual decision making to more complex decisions is not straightforward.