Exploring modality-specificity and conceptual generalization of response-effect compatibility, funded by the DFG

  • Funding agengy: German Research Foundation, DFG
  • Applicant: Prof. Dr. Iring Koch, Institute of Psychology
  • Co-applicants: Dr. Andrea M. Philipp, Institute of Psychology, and Arnaud Badets, CNRS, Groupe d’Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle, UMR 5296, Université de Bordeaux, France
  • Responsible staff member: M.A. Noémi Földes
  • Duration: 36 months, 2014-2017


According to the ideomotor theory, actions are planned in terms of mental anticipation of the intended outcome of this very action. A great deal of research was conducted in order to explore this theory during the last 20 years. This research was particularly inspired by the idea of common coding of perception and action and the subsequent elaboration into a cognitive theory of event coding, TEC. The main idea is that a response is planned in terms of its anticipated sensory consequences, so that the representation of responses and representations of stimuli share a so-called perceptual format, that means both refer to sensory events.

In order to demonstrate the presence of this mental anticipation which precedes our actions, the response-effect compatibility paradigm is used. This assumes that pre-existing associations based on so-called dimensional overlap between the set of responses and the set of response-effects can be used to manipulate the compatibility of responses and their ensuing effects. Reaction time is typically shorter when the effect is compatible to the response than when it is incompatible.

In this project the paradigm is used to clarify further characteristics of the response-effect compatibility effect. First, since certain modality mappings are assumed to be more connected to each other than to others, we aim to explore the role of modality mappings in this paradigm in a systematic way, for example vocal and manual response modalities mapped with auditory and visual effect modalities. We expect to find a more pronounced response-effect compatibility effect with those modality mappings that are considered compatible, hence manual-visual and vocal-auditor,) based on the fact that they usually occur together in everyday life.

The second focus of the project is the conceptual level of response planning. Using the same paradigm, we either present different formats of the same effect, for example Arab digit, Roman number, or present the effect in different languages. This part of the research is going to explore whether phonological overlap or conceptual overlap is involved in the response-effect compatibility paradigm and thus, in action control.

Selected references

Badets, A., Koch, I., & Philipp, A. M. (2014). A review of ideomotor approaches to perception, cognition, action, and language: Advancing a cultural recycling hypothesis. Psychological Research . (online first ) DOI : 10.1027/1618-3169/a000171.

Badets, A., Koch, I., Touissaint , L. (2013). Role of an ideomotor mechanism in number processing. Experimental Psychology, 60, 34-43.

Greenwald, A. G. (1970). Sensory feedback mechanisms in performance control: With special reference to the ideomotor mechanism. Psychological Review , 77 , 73-99.

Greenwald, A. G. (1972). On doing two things at once: Timesharing as a function of ideomotor compatibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology , 94 , 52-57.

Koch, I., Kunde, W. (2002). Verbal response-effect compatibility. Memory & Cognition, 30 , 1297-1303.

Kunde, W. (2001). Response-effect compatibility in manual choice reaction tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27, 387-394.

Stephan, D. N., & Koch, I. (2010). Central crosstalk in task switching: Evidence from manipulating input-output modality compatibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 36 , 1075-1081.

Stephan, D. N., & Koch, I. (2011). The role of input-output modality compatibility in task swtiching. The role of input-output modality compatibility in task switching. Psycholgical Research, 75, 491-498.