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14-07-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2017

Psychological Research 4/2017

Valence activates motor fluency simulation and biases perceptual judgment

Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2017
Audrey Milhau, Thibaut Brouillet, Vincent Dru, Yann Coello, Denis Brouillet


The concept of motor fluency, defined as the positive marking associated with the easy realisation of a movement, is used to explain the various compatibility effects observed between emotional valence and lateral space. In this work, we propose that these effects arise from the motor fluency simulation induced by emotionally positive stimuli. In a perceptual line bisection task (Landmark task) we primed each trial with an emotionally positive word, negative word, neutral word or no word before asking participants to verbally indicate the side of the vertical mark on the horizontal line (Experiment 1) or to indicate the longest side of the line (Experiment 2). After positive words and for bisected lines, participants’ responses were biased towards their dominant side for both right- and left-handers and similarly under the two different instructions. As movements of the dominant hand or in the dominant hemispace have been described as the most fluent lateral actions, this result supports our hypothesis that positive stimuli induce a mental simulation of fluent lateral movements. Furthermore, the replication of the effect under opposite instructions between the two experiments is in line with an explanation in terms of a bias in response selection rather than variations in perceptual content.

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