The top line would read red, blue, orange purple. That is easy. The task is to quickly name not the word itself, but the color of the word. As an example, for the word "green" printed in red ink, the correct verbal answer is "red." Because of a phenomenon called directed attention, this is hilariously difficult to do. You must actively inhibit the automatic response—reading the word—in order to do something else. This is not the only way in which we can understand the power of the irrational. There are many examples that have been done to show how we all do dumb and irrational things despite taking pride in our rational selves.
Take for instance Stanley Milgram's famous experiment. How far would you go giving what you thought were electrical shocks to another human being simply for a study about memory? What would you think when the learner went quiet after you apparently administered a shock labeled on the board "Danger: Severe Shock"? How far would you go? The majority, at least 63% of the participants, continued right until the end – they administered all the shocks even with the learner screaming in agony, begging to stop and eventually falling silent. These weren't specially selected sadists, these were ordinary people like you and me who had volunteered for a psychology study.
My hypothesis is that you need to learn to develop the irrational – also known as the "creative" aspects of you. Writing a story is a good way to develop your irrational self. Stories are boring when they are straightforward and predictable. For instance try this for a rational (aka BORING as hell) opening line of a short story.
A boy and a girl sat on the same bench in the Physics class. The Professor was teaching (what else) Physics. The boy and the girl were trying to think of what the possible question paper would be like…
Now try this one on.
A boy and a girl sat on the same bench in the Physics class. While the Professor was teaching Physics, the girl's mind wandered. She was thinking of options. What protection should she use when the boy would meet her that evening. Would it be better to carry a small revolver or should she just use the sharp kitchen knife, she wondered. The boy was telling himself, "If only I had known that she was vegetarian, I would not have poisoned the fish…"
The best storytellers are magicians who use the same principles of psychology to lead the reader to a path that is perfectly rational and logical, but wrong. The purpose of every story is to coax the reader into suspending their disbelief. Good cinema does the same. See how much more interesting a life you would lead if you stopped resisting the irrational aspects of human beings. For instance, if you knew that groups fail to share information with each other that is known only to themselves and simply repeated what others already knew, you would put less faith in decisions made by the group. People are seen as more capable when they talk about shared rather than unshared information. To be on the safe side people prefer to stick to repeating things that everyone knows and, bizarrely, others like them better for it. Heck!! I am not suggesting that you drop all opportunities to be rational. Merely suggesting that the next time you do something irrational, maybe there is an opportunity for you to learn about stuff most people have learnt to ignore. For instance, by knowing about the 7 Psychological Principles of Scams you can protect yourself from scams that make 3.2 million people each year in the UK hand over £3.5 billion to scamsters.
If you like to try more tests that check for cognitive skills, try a logic and reasoning skill test here.
Or this interesting piece on Ten Social Psychology Studies.