Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1224–1230 | Cite as

The joint flanker effect: Less social than previously thought

  • Thomas DolkEmail author
  • Bernhard Hommel
  • Wolfgang Prinz
  • Roman Liepelt


Research on joint action has been taken to suggest that actors automatically co-represent the tasks and/or actions of co-actors. However, recent findings on the joint Simon effect have provided evidence for a nonsocial account, which renders automatic co-representation unlikely. In the present study, we aimed to test whether a nonsocial account is also feasible for the joint version of the flanker task. In particular, we manipulated the social nature of the “co-actor” who could be another human or a Japanese waving cat. Contrary to the social interpretation of the joint flanker effect, the results demonstrated a “joint” flanker effect, irrespective of whether participants shared the task with another person or with the Japanese waving cat.


Flanker effect Stimulus–response compatibility Stimulus–response rules Joint action Event representations 


Author Note

We thank Veronika Hartl for help with the data acquisition.


  1. Atmaca, S., Sebanz, N., & Knoblich, G. (2011). The joint flanker effect: Sharing tasks with real and imagined co-actors. Experimental Brain Research, 211, 371–385.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Dittrich, K., Dolk, T., Rothe-Wulf, A., Klauer, K. C., & Prinz, W. (2013). Keys and seats: Spatial response coding underlying the joint Simon compatibility effect. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 75, 1725–1736. doi: 10.3758/s13414-013-0524-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dolk, T., Hommel, B., Colzato, L. S., Schütz-Bosbach, S., Prinz, W., & Liepelt, R. (2011). How “social” is the social Simon effect? Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 84.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Dolk, T., Hommel, B., Prinz, W., & Liepelt, R. (2013). The (not so) social Simon effect: A referential coding account. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39, 1248–1260.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Duncan, J. (1996). Cooperating brain systems in selective perception and action. In T. Inui & J. L. McClelland (Eds.), Attention and performance XVI (pp. 549–576). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dutzi, I. B., & Hommel, B. (2009). The microgenesis of action-effect binding. Psychological Research, 73, 425–435.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eriksen, B. A., & Eriksen, C. W. (1974). Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a target letter in a nonsearch task. Perception & Psychophysics, 16, 143–149. doi: 10.3758/BF03203267 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gratton, G., Coles, M. G. H., Sirevaag, E. J., Eriksen, C. W., & Donchin, E. (1988). Pre- and poststimulus activation of response channels: A psychophysiological analysis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 331–344. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.14.3.331 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Guagnano, D., Rusconi, E., & Umiltà, C. A. (2010). Sharing a task or sharing space? On the effect of the confederate in action coding in a detection task. Cognition, 114, 348–355. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2009.10.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Heil, M., Osman, A., Wiegelmann, J., Rolke, B., & Hennighausen, E. (2000). N200 in the Eriksen-task? Inhibitory executive processes? Journal of Psychophysiology, 14, 218–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hommel, B. (1996). S–R compatibility effects without response uncertainty. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 49A, 546–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hommel, B. (2011). The Simon effect as tool and heuristic. Acta Psychologica, 136, 189–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hommel, B., Colzato, L. S., & van den Wildenberg, W. P. M. (2009). How social are task representations. Psychological Science, 20, 794–798.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hommel, B., Müsseler, J., Aschersleben, G., & Prinz, W. (2001). The theory of event coding (TEC): A framework for perception and action planning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 849–878. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X01000103 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Knoblich, G., Butterfill, S., & Sebanz, N. (2011). Psychological research on joint action: Theory and data. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 54, pp. 59–101). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  16. Knoblich, G., & Sebanz, N. (2006). The social nature of perception and action. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 99–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kornblum, S., Hasbroucq, T., & Osman, A. (1990). Dimensional overlap: Cognitive basis for stimulus–response compatibility—A model and taxonomy. Psychological Review, 97, 253–270. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.97.2.253 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kühn, S., & Brass, M. (2010). The cognitive representation of intending not to act: Evidence for specific non-action-effect binding. Cognition, 117, 9–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Langton, S. R., Watt, R. J., & Bruce, I. I. (2000). Do the eyes have it? Cues to the direction of social attention. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 50–59. doi: 10.1016/S1364-6613(99)01436-9 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Liepelt, R., Wenke, D., Fischer, R., & Prinz, W. (2011). Trial-to-trial sequential dependencies in a social and non-social Simon task. Psychological Research, 75, 366–375.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Memelink, J., & Hommel, B. (2013). Intentional weighting: A basic principle in cognitive control. Psychological Research, 77, 249–259.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Müller, B. C. N., Kühn, S., van Baaren, R. B., Dotsch, R., Brass, M., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2011). Perspective taking eliminates differences in co-representation of out-group members’ actions. Experimental Brain Research, 211, 423–428. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2654-7 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Oldfield, R. C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh inventory. Neuropsychologia, 9, 97–113. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(71)90067-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pfister, R., Dolk, T., Prinz, W., & Kunde, W. (2013). Joint response–effect compatibility. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0528-7. Advance online publication.Google Scholar
  25. Pfister, R., & Janczyk, M. (2013). Confidence intervals for two sample means: Calculation; interpretation; and a few simple rules. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 9, 74–80.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Rösler, F., & Finger, T. (1993). A psychophysiological analysis of response-channel activation and outcome states in Eriksen’s noise-compatibility task. Psychological Research, 55, 20–28.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sebanz, N., Knoblich, G., & Prinz, W. (2003). Representing others’ actions: Just like one’s own? Cognition, 88, B11–B21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sebanz, N., Knoblich, G., & Prinz, W. (2005). How two share a task: Corepresenting stimulus–response mappings. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 1234–1246.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Simon, J. R. (1969). Reactions toward the source of stimulation. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 81, 174–176. doi: 10.1037/h0027448 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Stenzel, A., Chinellato, E., Tirado Bou, M. A., del Pobil, Á. P., Lappe, M., & Liepelt, R. (2012). When humanoid robots become human-like interaction partners: Co-representation of robotic actions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 1073–1077.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Wenke, D., Atmaca, S., Holländer, A., Liepelt, R., Baess, P., & Prinz, W. (2011). What is shared in joint action? The contents of co-representation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 2, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Dolk
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Bernhard Hommel
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Prinz
    • 1
  • Roman Liepelt
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMax-Planck-Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Psychological Research & Leiden Institute for Brain and CognitionLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for PsychologyUniversity of MuensterMuensterGermany
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyMax Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations