Perception of Proximal and Distal Action Effects in Interaction With Technical Systems


Sponsorship and Administration

The project was sponsored by the German Science Foundation (DFG SU 494/4). It was administrated by Prof. Dr. Christine Sutter (now at DHPol) and Professor Jochen Müsseler in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Sandra Sülzenbrück (now at FOM).

Project Member

Dr. Stefan Ladwig (now at IKA, RWTH Aachen University)


1. Phase: April 1, 2009 to July 31, 2011
2. Phase: August 1, 2011 to August 31, 2012


A surgeon, a pilot, a crane operator and a clerk - what do these heterogenous professional groups have in common? They all work with tools or devices whose use goes along with sensumotoric transformations. Even in everyday situations electrical or mechanical devices can make our tasks easier. On the other hand there is the cognitive challenge of using such a device. Unfamiliar transformations - as they occur for instance in endoscopic surgery - are especially difficult. Those tranfsormations, however, that take place when using a computer input device are comparatively easy. The movement of the input device is rarely translated into a 1:1 ratio on the screen, but is generally translated linearly or accelerated. Nevertheless, subjects frequently do not notice the discrepancy between the two movements. The current project deals with the question of perceptibility of proximal and distal effects in sensumotoric transformations: When and to which extent do we not perceive discrepancies in the evaluation of proximal and distal action effects? When do we perceive them? Accordingly, the project focuses on the comparison of proximal and distal perceptual judgements when performing goaldirected movements.

Selected Publications

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  • Ladwig, S., Sutter, C. & Müsseler, J. (2012). Crosstalk between proximal and distal action effects when using a tool. Journal of Psychology, 220, 10-15.
  • Sutter, C. & Ladwig, S. (2012). Mirrored visual feedback limits distal effect anticipation. Experimental Brain Research, 218, 247-258. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-012-3018-7.
  • Sutter, C., Müsseler, J. & Bardos, L. (2011). Effects of sensorimotor transformations with graphical input devices. Behaviour & Information Technology, DOI: 10.1080/01449291003660349
  • Sutter, C. & Müsseler, J. (2010). Action control while seeing mirror images of one's own movements: Effects of perspective on spatial compatibility. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 1757-1769.
  • Müsseler, J. & Sutter, C. (2009). Perceiving one´s own movements when using a tool. Consciousness and Cognition, 18(2), 359-365.
  • Sutter, C., Müsseler, J., Bardos, L., Ballgas, R. & Borchers, J. (2008). The impact of gain change on perceiving one´s own actions. In M. Herczeg & M.C. Kindsmüller (Hrsg.): Mensch & Computer 2008 (pp.147-156). München, Germany: Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag.
  • Sutter, C. (2007). Sensumotor transformation of input devices and the impact on practice and task difficulty. Ergonomics, 50(12), 1999-2016.