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Object-based correspondence effects for action-relevant and surface-property judgments with keypress responses: evidence for a basis in spatial coding


It has been proposed that grasping affordances produce a Simon-type correspondence effect for left–right keypress responses and the location of the graspable part of an object for judgments based on action-relevant properties such as shape, but not on surface properties. We tested the implications of this grasping affordance account and contrasted them with the ones derived from a spatial coding account that distinguishes holistic processing of integral dimensions and analytic processing of separable dimensions. In Experiments 1–3, judgments about the color of a door handle showed a Simon effect relative to the handle’s base, whereas judgments about the handle’s shape showed no Simon effect. In Experiment 4, when the middle of the handle was colored, the Simon effect was obtained relative to the base, but when the color was at the tip of the handle or near the base, Simon effects were obtained relative to the color location. For Experiment 5, only the base was colored, and the Simon effect was larger for a passive rather than active handle state, as in the color-judgment conditions of Experiments 2–4 in which the colored region overlapped with the base. In Experiment 6, orientation judgments showed no Simon effect, as the shape judgments did in Experiments 1 and 2. The findings of (a) an absence of Simon effects for shape and orientation judgments, (b) no larger Simon effects for active than passive handle states, and (c) isolation of the changing component for color judgments are consistent with the spatial coding account, according to which the distinction between object shape/orientation and color is one of integral versus separable dimensions.

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  1. 1.

    The number of participants was doubled in this experiment. because subsequent experiments were designed based on the results of Experiment 2. Thus, the experiment was conducted originally with 40 participants, and then a replication was conducted with an additional 40 participants to ensure that the main results were reliable. The resulting RT data were analyzed in a single ANOVA of trial block (first half of trial blocks, second half) × state of handle (active, passive) × correspondence (corresponding, noncorresponding) × experiment (original, replication) × condition (color, shape). For this analysis, the only significant term involving experiment was the four-way interaction of trial block × correspondence × condition × experiment, F(1, 76) = 8.10, p = .006, η p 2  = .10. This interaction was due mainly to a somewhat different pattern of results across the two trial blocks for the shape-judgment condition in the two experiments. Because the main results were consistent across the replications, we report the combined data of the 80 participants for Experiment 2.


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We thank S. P. Tipper and M. A. Paul for providing us with the stimulus files that they used in their 2006 study with A. E. Hayes.

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Correspondence to Robert W. Proctor.

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Cho, D.T., Proctor, R.W. Object-based correspondence effects for action-relevant and surface-property judgments with keypress responses: evidence for a basis in spatial coding. Psychological Research 77, 618–636 (2013).

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  • Trial Block
  • Simon Effect
  • Passive State
  • Response Time Distribution
  • Keypress Response