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Acquisition and generalization of action effects

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Three experiments studied the acquisition of action-contingent events (action effects). In a first, acquisition phase participants performed free-choice reactions with each keypress leading to the presentation of either a particular category word (e.g., animal or furniture) or an exemplar word (e.g., dog or chair). In the test phase, choice responses were made to category or exemplar words by using a word-key mapping that was either compatible or incompatible with the key-word mapping during acquisition. Compatible mapping produced better performance than incompatible mapping if the words in the practice and the test phase were the same (e.g., animalanimal), if they had a subordinate-superordinate relationship (e.g., doganimal), belonged to the same category (e.g., dogcat), or referred to visually related concepts (e.g., orangecircle). The findings support the assumption that action effects are acquired and integrated with the accompanying action automatically, so that perceiving the effect leads to the priming of the associated response. And, most importantly, they demonstrate that effect acquisition generalizes to other, feature-overlapping events.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Leiden University, Cognitive Psychology Unit, The Netherlands 2: Departamento de Neurociencia y Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Almería, Spain

Publication date: November 1, 2003


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