Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Carefully Encoding Approach/Avoidance Body Locomotion with Interpersonal Conduct in Narrated Interactions

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Carefully Encoding Approach/Avoidance Body Locomotion with Interpersonal Conduct in Narrated Interactions

Article excerpt

A key function of the affect system is to elicit approach/avoidance responses (Lang, Bradley, & Cuthbert, 1990). Affective responses organise experience by directing our limited attention and processing capacities toward aspects of the environment with adaptive implications for behavioural regulation (Crawford & Cacioppo, 2002; Zajonc, 1998). For this reason, the relation between valenced stimuli and approach/avoidance motivational motor tendencies constitutes a relevant aspect of the environment to be represented, and would automatically capture the attentional resources necessary for its processing.

Previous research has found that evaluative processing is coupled with action dispositions in both directions. Approach motions are compatible with evaluating positive objects, whereas avoidance motions are compatible with negative object evaluation. Typically, it has been reported that encoding positive/negative information and concurrent approach/avoidance arm actions elicit faster responses when both activities are compatible ("positive-approach," and "negative-avoidance" conditions) than otherwise (Chen & Bargh, 1999; Duckworth, Bargh, García, & Chaiken, 2002; Rinck & Becker, 2007). Chen and Bargh concluded that valenced words are evaluated automatically, and this automatic evaluation involves the activation of approach or avoidance arm movements. Likewise, keeping a bodily state of approach (i.e., arm flexion) induces better recognition for concurrent positive information, whereas a bodily state of avoidance (i.e., arm extension) induces better recognition for negative information (Cacioppo, Priester, & Berntson, 1993; Förster & Strack, 1996; Förster & Stepper, 2000). This supports the claim that bodily states facilitate the encoding of compatible affective information improving its subsequent recognition.

Facilitation in compatible stimuli-motion conditions has been explained as a result of stimuli and motion being "things that go together" in everyday experience (Alluisi & Warm, 1990). Its relationship would correspond to overlearned stimulus-response (s-r) sequences we naturally experience between valenced environmental information (e.g., positive/negative words) and approach/avoidance reactions (Gawronski, Deutsch, & Strack, 2005). As a result, overt motor actions of approach/avoidance would induce preparedness for encoding consistent valenced information; and vice versa, valenced information would initiate directive forces on motoric behaviour (approach/avoidance). This constitutes a motivational account for affective-motor compatibility effects (Eder & Klauer, 2009).

From a different perspective, Eder and Rothermund (2008; see also Eder & Klauer, 2009) have proposed an alternative explanation to compatibility effects, the common coding account, based on the theory of event coding (TEC; Hommel, Müsseler, Aschersleben, & Prinz, 2001). Event coding theory assumes a common coding of stimulus and response features. Motor responses become activated through the anticipation of the responses' sensory consequences in action planning. These coded features shared by actions with perceptual stimuli, modulate the interaction between processing stimuli and concurrent actions. In contrast to the motivational account, common coding predicts either facilitation or interference of approach/avoidance with compatible concurrent stimuli encoding. Interference would be because of feature binding conflicts: stimuli encoding cannot access valenced code (either positive or negative) during concurrent performance because it is occupied by the integration phase of the approach/avoidance event. By contrast, facilitation occurs if stimuli shortly precede motion execution, as this activates common valence code, making it more accessible for action event encoding. Of interest to the authors, common coding and motivational accounts could be complementary instead of alternative explanations of compatibility effects. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.