The role of the co-actor’s response reachability in the joint Simon effect: remapping of working space by tool use

  • Cristina IaniEmail author
  • Francesca Ciardo
  • Simone Panajoli
  • Luisa Lugli
  • Sandro Rubichi
Original Article


The Simon effect, that is the advantage of the spatial correspondence between stimulus and response locations when stimulus location is task irrelevant, occurs even when the task is performed by two participants, each performing a go/no-go task. This effect, known as the joint Simon effect, does not emerge when participants sit outside each other’s peripersonal space, thus suggesting that the presence of an active confederate in peripersonal space might provide a reference for response coding. The present study investigated whether this finding is due to the distance separating the participants and/or to the distance separating each participant and the other agent’s response. In two experiments, pairs of participants performed a social detection task sitting outside each other’s arm reach, with response keys located close to the participants or outside arm reach. When the response key was located outside the participant’s arm reach, he/she could reach it by means of a tool. In Experiment 1, by means of a tool, participants could reach their response key only, while in Experiment 2, they could reach also their co-agent’s response key. The joint Simon effect did not emerge when participants could not reach the co-actor’s response, while it emerged when they could potentially reach the other participant’s response using the tool, but only when turn taking was required. These results may be taken as evidence that the possibility to reach and act upon the co-actor’s response key may be at the bases of compatibility effects observed in joint action contexts requiring complementary responses.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this paper.

Ethical approval

The manuscript does not report clinical studies or patient data. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study fulfilled the ethical standard procedure recommended by the Italian Association of Psychology (AIP). It was approved by the Department of Communication and Economics of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and EconomicsUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaReggio EmiliaItaly
  2. 2.Center for Neuroscience and NeurotechnologyUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  3. 3.Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction UnitIstituto Italiano di TecnologiaGenoaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Philosophy and CommunicationUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  5. 5.Department of Education and Human SciencesUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaReggio EmiliaItaly

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