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Visual salience, not the graspable part of a pictured eating utensil, grabs attention

  • Aiping XiongEmail author
  • Robert W. Proctor
  • Howard N. Zelaznik
Article

Abstract

Three experiments used compatible and incompatible mappings of images of eating utensils to test the hypothesis that these images activate affordances for grasping with the corresponding hand when the required response is a key-press. In Experiment 1, stimuli were photographs of a plastic spoon oriented on the horizontal axis, with the handle location varying randomly between left and right. Participants were instructed to respond to the handle or the tip, with a compatible mapping in one trial block and an incompatible mapping in another. A benefit for the compatible mapping was evident when the spoon tip was defined as relevant and a smaller cost when the handle was defined as relevant, suggesting a larger influence of the tip than the handle. In Experiment 2, the stimuli were photographs of bamboo chopsticks, for which the functional end is pointed and the graspable end is squared. East Asian participants familiar with chopsticks showed compatibility effects that did not differ significantly between the two ends. In Experiment 3, the chopstick handles were colored red to make them relatively more distinct than the tips. Both East Asian participants (Experiment 3B) and a more diverse sample (Experiment 3A) showed a benefit of the compatible mapping when the handle was defined as task relevant but not when the functional end was. Altogether, the results provide evidence that left-right location of a visually salient feature is the main factor driving these compatibility effects, rather than the automatic activation of a grasping affordance.

Keywords

Grasping affordance Spatial compatibility Object-based correspondence effect 

Notes

Author Note

We thank Jennifer Cathlyn Chan and Yaqi Xu for assistance in conducting the experiments.

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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aiping Xiong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert W. Proctor
    • 2
  • Howard N. Zelaznik
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Information Sciences and TechnologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Health and Kinesiology DepartmentPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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