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Clear Safety Signs: E Germany wins versus W Germany

Safety signs are one area in which, according to this study, East Germany ultimately triumphed over West Germany:

Should I Stay or Should I Go – Cognitive Conflict in Multi-Attribute Signals Probed with East and West German ‘Ampelmännchen’ Traffic Signs,” Claudia Peschke, Bettina Olk [pictured here], Claus C. Hilgetag, PLoS ONE 8(5), May 24, 2013, e64712. The authors, at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, and Boston University, USA, explain:

“In post-unification Germany, lingering conflicts between East and West Germans have found some unusual outlets, including a debate of the relative superiority of East and West German ‘Ampelmännchen’ pedestrian traffic signs. In our study, we probed the visual efficacy of East and West German Ampelmännchen signs with a Stroop-like conflict task. We found that the distinctive East German man-with-hat figures were more resistant to conflicting information, and in turn produced greater interference when used as distractors.”

Detail from the study: “Effective reaction time (RT*) depending on task and stimulus conditions. RT* was longer for the shape than color task, incongruent than congruent stimuli, and West compared to East signs. Error bars represent standard errors.”

(Thanks to investigator Geoffrey Miller for bringing this to our attention.)

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