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Is automatic imitation a specialized form of stimulus–response compatibility? Dissociating imitative and spatial compatibilities

Boyer, T.W. and Longo, Matthew R. and Bertenthal, B.I. (2012) Is automatic imitation a specialized form of stimulus–response compatibility? Dissociating imitative and spatial compatibilities. Acta Psychologica 139 (3), pp. 440-448. ISSN 0001-6918.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2012.01.003

Abstract

In recent years research on automatic imitation has received considerable attention because it represents an experimental platform for investigating a number of inter-related theories suggesting that the perception of action automatically activates corresponding motor programs. A key debate within this research centers on whether automatic imitation is any different than other long-term S-R associations, such as spatial stimulus-response compatibility. One approach to resolving this issue is to examine whether automatic imitation shows similar response characteristics as other classes of stimulus-response compatibility. This hypothesis was tested by comparing imitative and spatial compatibility effects with a two alternative forced-choice stimulus-response compatibility paradigm and two tasks: one that involved selecting a response to the stimulus (S-R) and one that involved selecting a response to the opposite stimulus (OS-R), i.e., the one not presented. The stimulus for both tasks was a left or right hand with either the index or middle finger tapping down. Speeded responses were performed with the index or middle finger of the right hand in response to the finger identity or the left-right spatial position of the fingers. Based on previous research and a connectionist model, we predicted standard compatibility effects for both spatial and imitative compatibility in the S-R task, and a reverse compatibility effect for spatial compatibility but not for imitative compatibility in the OS-R task. The results from the mean response times, mean percentage of errors, and response time distributions all converged to support these predictions. A second noteworthy result was that the recoding of the finger identity in the OS-R task required significantly more time than the recoding of the left-right spatial position, but the encoding time for the two stimuli in the S-R task was equivalent. In sum, this evidence suggests that the processing of spatial and imitative compatibility is dissociable with regard to two different processes in dual processing models of stimulus-response compatibility.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Psychologica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version will be subsequently published in Acta Psychologica, [VOL#, ISSUE#, (DATE)] DOI#”
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): action perception, automatic imitation, observation-execution matching, Simon effect, S-R compatibility, dual-processing models
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Matthew R Longo
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2012 08:55
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4537

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