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Distinguishing the time-­ and magnitude-­difference accounts of the Simon Effect: Evidence from the reach-to-touch paradigm


Finkbeiner, M and Heathcote, A, Distinguishing the time- and magnitude- difference accounts of the Simon Effect: Evidence from the reach-to-touch paradigm, Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 78, (3) pp. 848-867. ISSN 1943-3921 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2015

DOI: doi:10.3758/s13414-015-1044-9


A Simon effect occurs when the irrelevant spatial attributes of a stimulus conflict with choice responses based on non-spatial stimulus attributes. Many theories of the Simon effect assume that activation from task-irrelevant spatial attributes becomes available before the activation from task-relevant attributes. We refer to this as the time-difference account. Other theories follow a magnitude-difference account, assuming activation from relevant and irrelevant attributes becomes available at the same time, but with the activation from irrelevant attributes initially being stronger. To distinguish these two accounts, we incorporated the response-signal procedure into the reach-to-touch paradigm to map out the emergence of the Simon effect. We also used a carefully calibrated neutral condition to reveal differences in the initial onset of the influence of relevant and irrelevant information. Our results establish that irrelevant spatial information becomes available earlier than relevant non-spatial information. This finding is consistent with the time-difference account and inconsistent with the magnitude-difference account. However, we did find a magnitude effect, in the form of reduced interference from irrelevant information, for the second of a sequence of two incongruent trials.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:attention, selective attention, cognitive control, automaticity
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:105119
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2015-12-08
Last Modified:2018-03-05

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