Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 497–506 | Cite as

The location-, word-, and arrow-based Simon effects: An ex-Gaussian analysis

  • Chunming Luo
  • Robert W. Proctor


Task-irrelevant spatial information, conveyed by stimulus location, location word, or arrow direction, can influence the response to task-relevant attributes, generating the location-, word-, and arrow-based Simon effects. We examined whether different mechanisms are involved in the generation of these Simon effects by fitting a mathematical ex-Gaussian function to empirical response time (RT) distributions. Specifically, we tested whether which ex-Gaussian parameters (μ, σ, and τ) show Simon effects and whether the location-, word, and arrow-based effects are on different parameters. Results show that the location-based Simon effect occurred on mean RT and μ but not on τ, and a reverse Simon effect occurred on σ. In contrast, a positive word-based Simon effect was obtained on all these measures (including σ), and a positive arrow-based Simon effect was evident on mean RT, σ, and τ but not μ. The arrow-based Simon effect was not different from the word-based Simon effect on τ or σ but was on μ and mean RT. These distinct results on mean RT and ex-Gaussian parameters provide evidence that spatial information conveyed by the various location modes are different in the time-course of activation.


Location modes Simon effect Ex-Gaussian 



This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation of China (31470984).

Compliance with ethical standards

Written consent was obtained from all participants prior to participation. The protocol was approved by the institutional review board (IRB) at the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral ScienceInstitute of PsychologyBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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