Responses to objects with a graspable handle are faster when the response hand and handle orientation are aligned (e.g., a key press with the right hand is required and the object handle is oriented to the right) than when they are not aligned. This effect could be explained by automatic activation of specific motor programs when an object is viewed. Alternatively, the effect could be explained by competition at the response level. Participants performed a reach-and-grasp or reach-and-button-press action with their left or right hand in response to the color of a beer mug. The alignment effect did not vary as a function of the type of action. In addition, the alignment effect disappeared in a go/no-go version of the task. The same results were obtained when participants made upright/inverted decisions, so that object shape was task-relevant. Our results indicate that alignment effects are not due to automatic motor activation of the left or right limb.

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Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Department of Psychology

Roest, S., Pecher, D., Naeije, L., & Zeelenberg, R. (2016). Alignment effects in beer mugs: Automatic action activation or response competition?. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 78(6), 1665–1680. doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1130-7