Implied between-object actions affect response selection without knowledge about object functionality

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Potential interactions between objects affect response selection in action-related object pairs. The present paper aimed to examine whether this effect is conditional on the knowledge about object functionality, or whether action-related structures such as handles are sufficient. This issue was investigated by utilizing a paradigm established previously. They presented imperative central targets which overlapped with task-irrelevant object pairs and required speeded left/right responses to the targets. With this paradigm, two stable effects of implied actions between objects on response selection have been identified: an inhibitory effect on responses aligned with the passive object (e.g., a bowl in a bowl–spoon pair) and an advantage associated with responses aligned with the active objects (e.g., a spoon). The present paper utilized these two effects as the indexes of response selection in paired-object scenarios, and found that active–passive object pairs without established functionality (e.g., a saw and a bowl, Experiment 1) generated the same effects, suggesting that response selection does not rely on functionality knowledge of given object pairs. Further, the two effects were also observed in passive–passive object pairs with handles (e.g., a cup–nail pair), but not in those without a handle (e.g., a bowl–nail pair, Experiment 2), and remained when the active objects were replaced by novel objects with handle but no known functionality (Experiment 3), suggesting that the action-related structures of objects are sufficient to affect response selection. The present study empirically illustrated the automaticity and directness of the extraction of potential interaction between objects, probably based on the relative location of action-related structure of objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-168
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number1-3
Early online date2 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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