Keys and seats: Spatial response coding underlying the joint spatial compatibility effect.Atten Percept Psychophys. 2013 Nov; 75(8):1725-36.AP
Spatial compatibility effects (SCEs) are typically observed when participants have to execute spatially defined responses to nonspatial stimulus features (e.g., the color red or green) that randomly appear to the left and the right. Whereas a spatial correspondence of stimulus and response features facilitates response execution, a noncorrespondence impairs task performance. Interestingly, the SCE is drastically reduced when a single participant responds to one stimulus feature (e.g., green) by operating only one response key (individual go/no-go task), whereas a full-blown SCE is observed when the task is distributed between two participants (joint go/no-go task). This joint SCE (a.k.a. the social Simon effect) has previously been explained by action/task co-representation, whereas alternative accounts ascribe joint SCEs to spatial components inherent in joint go/no-go tasks that allow participants to code their responses spatially. Although increasing evidence supports the idea that spatial rather than social aspects are responsible for joint SCEs emerging, it is still unclear to which component(s) the spatial coding refers to: the spatial orientation of response keys, the spatial orientation of responding agents, or both. By varying the spatial orientation of the responding agents (Exp. 1) and of the response keys (Exp. 2), independent of the spatial orientation of the stimuli, in the present study we found joint SCEs only when both the seating and the response key alignment matched the stimulus alignment. These results provide evidence that spatial response coding refers not only to the response key arrangement, but also to the-often neglected-spatial orientation of the responding agents.