Compatibility Phenomena


Frequently there are fixed rules for the mapping of stimuli to actions. For example, in the cafeteria we push those buttons of the vending machine that spatially correspond to the picture of the product we would like to buy. This situation is characterized by a high spatial stimulus-response compatibility, but there is little perceptual or conceptual similarity between the action and the intended effect, per se, as button pushing and receiving a beverage does not have much in common. In contrast, in car driving, rotating the wheel to the left would lead to a left turn of the car, too, so that there is high action-perception, or action-effect, compatibility. In both cases though, action selection is strongly influenced by mentally anticipated sensorial effects. We investigate compatibility phenomena and mental anticipation processes in a variety of ways.

  • Interaction of stimulus-response compatibility and sequential action preparation
  • Action-effect compatibility in vocal and in manual actions
  • Action-effect compatibility in action sequences
  • Compatibility phenomena in the oculomotor system
  • Cross-task compatibility

In addition to pursuing basic research questions, there are potential implications in ergonomics, such as in the selection and design of interfaces in human-computer interaction.

Selected references

Badets, A., Koch, I., & Philipp, A. M. (in press). A review of ideomotor approaches to perception, cognition, action, and language: Advancing a cultural recycling hypothesis. Psychological Research. (Review)

Koch, I., Keller, P. & Prinz, W. (2004). The ideomotor approach to movement control: Implications for skilled performance. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2, 362-375. (Review)

Badets, A., Koch, I., & Toussaint, L. (2013). The role of an ideomotor mechanism in number processing. Experimental Psychology, 60, 34-43.

Otte, E., Jost, K., Habel, U., & Koch, I. (2011). Exploring cross-task compatibility in perceiving and producing facial expressions using electromyography. Acta Psychologica, 138, 187-192.

Prinz, W., Aschersleben, G., & Koch, I. (2009). Cognition and action. In E. Morsella, J. Bargh, & P. M. Gollwitzer (Eds.), The Psychology of Action, Volume 2: Mechanisms of Human Action (pp. 35-71). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Keller, P. & Koch, I. (2008). Action planning in sequential skills: Relations to music performance. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 6, 275-291.

Kunde, W., Koch, I., & Hoffmann, J. (2004). Anticipated action effects affect the selection, initiation and execution of actions. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 57A, 87-106.

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