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Repetition or alternation of context influences sequential congruency effect depending on the presence of contingency

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Abstract

The sequential congruency effect (SCE) is defined as the decrease in the congruency effect following incongruent trials compared to congruent trials. The effect of context repetition on the SCE was investigated in four experiments. In all the experiments, dynamic visual white noise was used as the contextual feature, and the number of congruent and incongruent trials was equal. In Experiments 1 and 2, by using eight-value Flanker and Stroop tasks, and excluding stimulus- and response-feature repetitions from the analysis, a SCE was observed in both context repetition and alternation conditions. In Experiment 3, using a two-value Flanker task, all trials consisted of stimulus- and response-feature repetitions, and a SCE was only observed in the context repetition condition. In Experiment 4, we used a four-value Flanker task, which enabled half of the trials to be partial/complete repetitions and the other half to be complete alternations. A SCE was observed in both context repetition and alternation conditions irrespective of the stimulus- and response-feature repetitions. This pattern of results suggested that the effects of context repetition on the SCE are subject to a number of factors including stimulus- and response-feature repetitions and contingency biases. When contingency information exists, the presence of stimulus- and response-feature repetitions was no longer effective in yielding effects of context repetition on the SCE. These findings suggest that the usage of information registered in episodic event representations including stimulus-, response- and contextual-features, control parameters and contingency biases results from interactions of a complex pattern of mechanisms, yet to be further explored.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    To our knowledge, Spapé and Hommel (2008) was the only study that investigated effects of context repetition/alternation on the SCE. In their study, the effect size of the critical three-way interaction involving previous congruency, current congruency and context repetition was 0.56. In the G*Power 3 software, we set α and β to 0.01, η p 2 to 0.50, and selected the recommended Cohen (1998) method. A priori power analysis showed that 28 participants would achieve 1 − β = 0.99.

  2. 2.

    In Experiments 1 and 2, spoken response latency was measured by a voice key implemented in E-Prime 2.0 software (Psychology Software Tools, Pittsburgh, PA) and response box. Voice keys have a number disadvantages in the detection of the onset of spoken responses (Rastle & Davis, 2002). Coding the speech onset latency offline by hand by visually inspecting the recorded waveform and spectrogram is the most accurate method to detect the onset (ibid.). In Experiment 3 and 4, we used this improved method for response time measurement. We do not think that this methodological difference might explain the differences between Experiment 1 and 2 versus 3, because in Experiment 4, even though we used this improved method, we observed results similar to Experiments 1 and 2.

  3. 3.

    We believe that the marginal significance of this result is not problematic for a couple of reasons. First, it was a replication of the Spapé and Hommel (2008); second, the statistical power of the analysis (0.49) was not low; and finally, the separate analyses of context repetition and context alternation trials confirmed the trend.

  4. 4.

    In order to investigate the observed differences between Experiments 3 and 4 more directly, we compared the SCE in Experiment 3 against the SCE with trials involving stimulus- and response-feature repetitions in Experiment 4. Consequently, we conducted post hoc independent-samples t tests. The results did not reveal a significant difference between the SCE in the context repetition conditions of Experiments 3 and 4, t(39) = -0.64, p = .53. The difference was not also significant for the context alternation conditions, t(39) = 0.37, p = .71. However, we believe that the tests have low statistical power to detect significant differences because of the between subject comparison of the conditions.

  5. 5.

    We are grateful to our anonymous reviewer for pointing out this alternative explanation.

  6. 6.

    For reaction time data in Experiments 1, 2 and 4, we conducted 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 × 3 ANOVA with block (first half, second half), context repetition (context repetition, context alternation), previous trial congruency (congruent, incongruent), and current trial congruency (congruent, incongruent) as within-subjects factors and Experiment (Experiment 1, 2 and 4) as the between subjects factor. The critical four-way interaction between block, context repetition, previous trial congruency and current trial congruency was not significant, F(1, 70) < 1, p = .38. The critical five-way interaction between block, context repetition, previous trial congruency, current trial congruency and Experiment was also not significant, F(2, 70) = 1.64, p = .20. Separate analyses of the first half and the second half of the experiments did not reveal significant results for the three-way interaction between context repetition, previous trial congruency, and current trial congruency, Fs < 1.

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Acknowledgments

Nart Bedin Atalay is supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) under Grant Number 113K530. We would like to thank Bilge Yalçındağ, Sena Tekinay, Elçin Çağlar, Mehmetcan Fal, Hande Gültekin and Ayşe Koçhan for their assistance in data collection. Experiments 1 and 2 were presented in the 55th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, November 20–23, 2014, Long Beach, California, USA, and Experiment 1 in the 18. National Congress of Psychology, April 9–13, Bursa, Turkey.

Author information

Correspondence to Asli Bahar Inan.

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Supplementary material 1 (MPG 1594 kb)

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Appendices

Appendix 1

For reaction time data in Experiment 1, results of omnibus 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVA with previous trial context (PContext: noise, clear), current trial context (CContext: noise, clear), previous trial congruency (PCong: congruent, incongruent), and current trial congruency (CCong: congruent, incongruent) as within-subjects factors. Significant results are written in bold.

Effect F MSE p η p 2
PContext 1.13 366.22 .297 0.04
CContext 5.68 611.01 .024 0.17
PCong 1.61 284.42 .216 0.05
CCong 124.74 554.13 <.001 0.82
PContext × CContext 17.11 156.98 <.001 0.38
PContext × PCong 0.30 253.67 .586 0.01
PContext × CCong 1.69 163.26 .205 0.06
CContext × PCong 0.62 310.80 .438 0.02
CContext × CCong 3.24 257.16 .083 0.10
PCong × CCong 7.94 282.05 .009 0.22
PContext × CContext × PCong <0.01 140.61 .961 <0.01
PContext × CContext × CCong 0.09 295.33 .763 <0.01
PContext × PCong × CCong 1.99 207.17 .169 0.07
CContext × PCong × CCong <0.01 209.58 .963 <0.01
PContext × CContext × PCong × CCong 0.52 99.79 .476 0.02

Appendix 2

For reaction time data in Experiment 2, results of omnibus 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVA with previous trial context (PContext: noise, clear), current trial context (CContext: noise, clear), previous trial congruency (PCong: congruent, incongruent), and current trial congruency (CCong: congruent, incongruent) as within-subjects factors. Significant results are written in bold.

Effect F MSE p η p 2
PContext 0.08 758.89 .777 <0.01
CContext 1.54 1558.59 .225 0.05
PCong 3.38 1023.19 .076 0.10
CCong 328.48 6070.06 <.001 0.92
PContext × CContext 8.48 652.87 .007 0.23
PContext × PCong 0.17 768.44 .683 0.01
PContext × CCong 0.05 995.21 .823 <0.01
CContext × PCong 4.97 699.76 .034 0.15
CContext × CCong 2.62 566.58 .117 0.08
PCong × CCong 16.77 1148.28 <.001 0.37
PContext × CContext × PCong 0.04 801.36 .844 <0.01
PContext × CContext × CCong 1.85 969.55 .185 0.06
PContext × PCong × CCong 0.13 582.36 .723 <0.01
CContext × PCong × CCong 0.81 657.58 .374 0.03
PContext × CContext × PCong × CCong 0.01 1033.38 .926 <0.01

Appendix 3

For reaction time data in Experiments 1 and 2, results of omnibus 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVA with context repetition (CRepeat: context repetition, context alternation), previous trial congruency (PCong: congruent, incongruent), current trial congruency (CCong: congruent, incongruent) as within-subjects factors, and congruency task (Task: Stroop, Flanker) as the between subjects factor. Significant results are written in bold.

Effect F MSE p η p 2
CRepeat 0.68 195.30 .412 0.01
CRepeat × Task 20.59 195.30 <.001 0.27
PCong 4.79 313.98 .033 0.08
PCong × Task 1.31 313.98 .257 0.02
CCong 411.82 1677.33 <.001 0.88
CCong × Task 192.40 1677.33 <.001 0.77
CRepeat × PCong 0.03 233.36 .859 <0.01
CRepeat × PCong × Task 0.06 233.36 .807 <0.01
CRepeat × CCong 0.46 334.12 .501 0.01
CRepeat × CCong × Task 1.62 334.12 .208 0.03
PCong × CCong 26.25 332.95 <.001 0.32
PCong × CCong × Task 6.24 332.95 .015 0.10
CRepeat × PCong × CCong 0.04 243.17 .851 <0.01
CRepeat × PCong × CCong × Task 0.02 243.17 .893 <0.01

Appendix 4

For reaction time data in Experiments 4, results of omnibus 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 ANOVA with stimulus- and response-feature repetition (FRepeat: S–R feature repetition, S–R feature alternation), context repetition (CRepeat: context repetition, context alternation), previous trial congruency (PCong: congruent, incongruent), current trial congruency (CCong: congruent, incongruent) as within-subjects factors. Significant results are written in bold.

Effect F MSE p η p 2
FRepeat 0.06 129.15 0.805 <0.01
CRepeat 0.11 399.74 0.743 0.01
PCong 0.04 321.31 0.842 0.00
CCong 158.48 765.65 <.001 0.87
FRepeat × Crepeat 0.69 176.73 0.416 0.03
FRepeat × PCong 0.00 275.09 0.997 <0.01
FRepeat × CCong 0.62 206.85 0.438 0.03
CRepeat × PCong 0.70 365.40 0.412 0.03
CRepeat × CCong 0.28 124.92 0.601 0.01
PCong × CCong 14.17 244.52 <.001 0.38
FRepeat × CRepeat × PCong 4.97 200.69 0.036 0.18
FRepeat × CRepeat × CCong 1.13 246.54 0.298 0.05
FRepeat × PCong × CCong 1.80 207.46 0.193 0.07
CRepeat × PCong × CCong 0.15 197.28 0.707 <0.01
FRepeat × CRepeat × PCong × CCong 0.02 198.14 0.883 <0.01

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Atalay, N.B., Inan, A.B. Repetition or alternation of context influences sequential congruency effect depending on the presence of contingency. Psychological Research 81, 490–507 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-016-0751-8

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Keywords

  • Congruency Effect
  • Stroop Task
  • Incongruent Trial
  • Contextual Feature
  • Trial Congruency