Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 79, Issue 7, pp 2132–2142 | Cite as

What or when? The impact of anticipated social action effects is driven by action-effect compatibility, not delay



Motor actions are facilitated if they are foreseeably being imitated rather than counterimitated by social partners. Such beneficial effects of anticipated imitation have been explained in terms of compatibility between one’s own actions and their anticipated consequences. Previous demonstrations of these effects might alternatively be explained by consistently faster partner responses for imitative than for nonimitative actions, however. This study contrasts both explanations by using virtual coactors to disentangle the contributions of anticipated action-effect compatibility and anticipated action-effect delay. The data of two experiments support previous theoretical assumptions by showing that the effects of anticipated imitation are indeed driven by compatibility rather than delay.


Action control Social interaction Ideomotor theory Action-effect compatibility Delay 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.


This work was supported by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG) to R.P. (PF 853/2-1) and W.K. (KU 1964/14-1).

Data availability

Stimulus materials, raw data, and analysis scripts are available on the Open Science Framework (


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyJulius Maximilians University of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Albert Ludwigs-University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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