Psychological Research

, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 50–59 | Cite as

The bivalency effect: adjustment of cognitive control without response set priming

Original Article


The occasional occurrence of bivalent stimuli, that is, stimuli with features relevant to two tasks, slows performance on subsequent tasks with univalent stimuli, including those which have no common features with bivalent stimuli (i.e., the “bivalency effect”). We have suggested that the bivalency effect might stem from an episodic context binding arising from the occasional occurrence of bivalent stimuli. However, as the same response set is used usually for univalent and bivalent stimuli, bivalent stimulus features may be negatively primed via response features. We investigated this possibility in two experiments, in which one group of participants used the same response keys for all tasks and another group used separate response keys. The results showed a comparable bivalency effect in both groups. Thus, it rather results from episodic context binding than from response set priming.



This work was supported by a grant from the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation to A. Rey-Mermet and by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 130104) to B. Meier. We thank Martina Godosev, Cornelia Häfliger, Sara Mössinger, Isabelle Lüdhi, and Jona Hermann for testing the participants, as well as Brigitte Weiermann, Nicolas Rothen and Josephine Cock for helpful comments on an earlier version.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BernBern 9Switzerland

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