Does the anticipation of a partner's reaction affect action planning? Spatial action-effect compatibility in a joint task


Actions in joint tasks are affected by the way the partner is acting. As action planning is mediated by an anticipation of their sensory consequences, this influence is likely to encompass the expected reactions of others to one's own actions. If so, it should be easier to perform actions that trigger compatible partner reactions instead of incompatible ones. To test this, we used a spatial action-effect compatibility paradigm in a joint task. Subjects moved virtual objects to different locations on a multi-touch table, followed by either a partner's manual reactions on the same or another object, or by automatic visual effects. There was a tendency for faster performance of actions with compatible effects, and no interaction with effect type. However, for the joint condition alone, no reliable compatibility benefit was found. The results highlight several difficulties in applying the basic research on ideomotor action control to more naturalistic, joint tasks.

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