Lippa, Y., & Goldstone, R. L. (2001). The Acquisition of Automatic Response Biases through Stimulus-Response Mapping and Categorization Determined by a Compatibility Task. Memory & Cognition, 29, 1051-1060
Experiments explored whether spatially neutral stimuli acquire the ability to automatically elicit spatial responses. In Experiment 1, participants associated line-drawings with either left or right key presses. Subsequently, the pictures were used in a Simon task wherein participants made left and right key presses based on the color of the picture, ignoring its shape. Participants responded more quickly when the key press previously associated with the picture matched, rather than mismatched, the response required by the picture’s color. In Experiment 2, participants learned response categories that grouped spatially ambiguous line-drawings together with pictures of left- and right-pointing arrows and fingers. A subsequent Simon task again yielded compatibility effects, indicating that the spatially ambiguous pictures inherited the response biases of the other objects in their category. Thus, responses directly associated with shapes, and indirectly associated with shapes by category membership, are both automatically triggered even when the responses are irrelevant and inappropriate.