Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Logical Recoding of S-R Rules Can Reverse the Effects of Spatial S-R Correspondence

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Logical Recoding of S-R Rules Can Reverse the Effects of Spatial S-R Correspondence

Article excerpt

Two experiments investigated competing explanations for the reversal of spatial stimulus-response (S-R) correspondence effects (i.e., Simon effects) with an incompatible S-R mapping on the relevant, nonspatial dimension. Competing explanations were based on generalized S-R rules (logical-recoding account) or referred to display-control arrangement correspondence or to S-S congruity. In Experiment 1, compatible responses to finger-name stimuli presented at left/right locations produced normal Simon effects, whereas incompatible responses to finger-name stimuli produced an inverted Simon effect. This finding supports the logical-recoding account. In Experiment 2, spatial S-R correspondence and color S-R correspondence were varied independently, and main effects of these variables were observed. The lack of an interaction between these variables, however, disconfirms a prediction of the display-control arrangement correspondence account. Together, the results provide converging evidence for the logical-recoding account. This account claims that participants derive generalized response selection rules (e.g., the identity or reversal rule) from specific S-R rules and inadvertently apply the generalized rules to the irrelevant (spatial) S-R dimension when selecting their response.

The mapping of stimuli onto responses is a major determinant of behavior, a phenomenon called stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility. Research on S-R compatibility has gained important insights into the mechanisms of human response selection (see Proctor & Vu, 2006, for an overview). Much research has focused on the effects of spatial S-R compatibility, investigating how the spatial arrangement of stimuli and responses affects the speed and quality of behavior (e.g., Hommel & Prinz, 1997). The general result of these investigations has been that spatial correspondence of stimulus and response locations produces better performance in terms of speed and accuracy than does spatial noncorrespondence. This general rule holds when stimulus location is relevant for selecting the correct response, a finding called spatial S-R compatibility proper. The rule also holds when stimulus location is irrelevant for selecting the correct response, a finding denoted as the Simon effect. The present study is concerned with a striking exception to this general rule: a reversal of the Simon effect that appears with an incompatible mapping on the relevant S-R dimension.

The Simon effect is particularly interesting because it suggests that stimuli activate spatially corresponding responses in an automatic fashion (e.g., Zorzi & Umiltà, 1995). In a typical Simon task, participants press a leftside key to a green stimulus and a right-side key to a red stimulus, and stimuli appear unpredictably at a left or at a right location. The finding of faster and more accurate responses to spatially corresponding conditions (e.g., green S at left location) than to spatially noncorresponding conditions (e.g., green S at right location) has been called the Simon effect, because J. R. Simon was the first to describe the phenomenon (e.g., Simon & Rudell, 1967; see Proctor & Vu, 2006, chap. 4, for a review).

The most prominent accounts of the Simon effect distinguish between two routes of response activation (e.g., Kornblum, Hasbroucq, & Osman, 1990; Zhang, Zhang, & Kornblum, 1999). A controlled route of processing is assumed to determine the correct response on the basis of the relevant stimulus attribute (e.g., color, in the example above) and the S-R mapping rule. An automatic route of processing is assumed to simultaneously activate the spatially corresponding response in the response set on the basis of stimulus location. Both routes converge on the correct response in spatially corresponding conditions, and this response is quickly selected and executed. By contrast, the routes activate different responses in spatially noncorresponding conditions, and the resulting response conflict produces a cost in time and/or accuracy. …

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