, Volume 207, Issue 1-2, pp 95-103
Date: 08 Oct 2010

Where does an object trigger an action? An investigation about affordances in space

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A series of experiments provide evidence that affordances rely not only on the mutual appropriateness of the features of an object and the abilities of an individual, but also on the fact that those features fall within her own reachable space, thus being really ready-to-her-own-hand. We used a spatial alignment effect paradigm and systematically examined this effect when the visually presented object was located either within or outside the peripersonal space of the participants, both from a metric (Experiment 1) and from a functional point of view (Experiment 2). We found that objectual features evoke actions only when the object is presented within the portion of the peripersonal space that is effectively reachable by the participants. Experiments 3 and 4 ruled out that our results could be merely accounted for by differences in the visual salience of the presented objects. Our data suggest that the power of an object to automatically trigger an action is strictly linked to the effective possibility that an individual has to interact with it.