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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1998 Jun;24(3):830-46.

On the relations between seen objects and components of potential actions.

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Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom.


Accounts of visually directed actions usually assume that their planning begins with an intention to act. This article describes three experiments that challenged this view through the use of a stimulus-response compatibility paradigm with photographs of common graspable objects as stimuli. Participants had to decide as fast as possible whether each object was upright or inverted. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the effect of the irrelevant dimension of left-right object orientation on bimanual and unimanual keypress responses. Experiment 3 examined wrist rotation responses to objects requiring either clockwise or anticlockwise wrist rotations when grasped. The results (a) are consistent with the view that seen objects automatically potentiate components of the actions they afford, (b) show that compatibility effects of an irrelevant stimulus dimension can be obtained across a wide variety of naturally occurring stimuli, and (c) support the view that intentions to act operate on already existing motor representations of the possible actions in a visual scene.

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