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01-04-2004 | Original Article | Uitgave 2-3/2004

Psychological Research 2-3/2004

Variable action effects: response control by context-specific effect anticipations

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2-3/2004
Andrea Kiesel, Joachim Hoffmann


The ideomotor principle (IMP) claims that bidirectional associations between actions and their contingent effects are acquired so that voluntary actions are accessed by the anticipation of intended effects. Until now, evidence for the IMP exists only for stable action-effect relations. The present paper explores whether the IMP also holds true for the initiation of actions for which no unconditional contingent action-effect relations exist. Participants responded with left and right key presses in two different contexts. They selected the responses according to the vertical (context A) or horizontal (context B) position of a target. Responses were followed by short/fast movements of the target in context A and comparatively long/slow movements in context B. Consequently, each response produced short and long effects equally often in both contexts. Nevertheless, RTs decreased in contexts with short effects and increased in contexts with long effects. Data confirm that action-effect associations were acquired context-specifically and that the same actions were accessed by different effect anticipations.

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