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ERIC Number: EJ931870
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Attention Is Required for Acquisition but Not Expression of New Response Biases
Miles, James D.; Proctor, Robert W.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v36 n6 p1554-1560 Nov 2010
Throughout a lifetime of interaction with the physical environment, people develop a strong bias to respond on the same side as the location of a target object, even when its location is irrelevant to the task at hand. Recent research has shown that this compatibility bias can be overridden with relatively brief but focused training. To better understand how such training affects preexisting response biases, we investigated whether attention is required to acquire and express a new bias to respond on the opposite side, thus creating an incompatibility bias. Participants practiced making responses on the opposite side from left and right tones and then made responses based on the frequencies (high or low) of the same tones. As in previous research, practice with a spatially incompatible mapping eliminated the compatible bias in the Simon task. The addition of an attention load (continuous secondary tracking task) during practice prevented learning the new response bias. However, once the new bias was learned, it overrode the compatibility bias regardless of available attentional resources. We suggest that not only can a quickly learned response bias overwhelm preexisting biases that are acquired over years of experience but that recently learned and older, preexisting biases are similarly affected by attention load. (Contains 3 tables and 1 figure.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A