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Limits on action priming by pictures of objects.

Authors
  • Yu, Alfred B1
  • Abrams, Richard A1
  • Zacks, Jeffrey M1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Washington University in St. Louis.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception & Performance
Publisher
American Psychological Association
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2014
Volume
40
Issue
5
Pages
1861–1873
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/a0037397
PMID: 25045901
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

When does looking at an object prime actions associated with using it, and what aspects of those actions are primed? We examined whether viewing manmade objects with handles would selectively facilitate responses for the hand closest to the handle, attempting to replicate a study reported by Tucker and Ellis (1998). We also examined whether the hypothesized action priming effects depended upon the response hand's proximity to an object. In 7 experiments, participants made judgments about whether pictured objects were manmade or natural or whether the objects were upright or inverted. They responded by pressing buttons located either on the same or opposite side as the objects' handles, at variable distances. Action priming was observed only when participants were explicitly instructed to imagine picking up the pictured objects while making their judgments; the data provide no evidence for task-general automatic priming of lateralized responses by object handles. These data indicate that visually encoding an object activates spatially localized action representations only under special circumstances.

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