- Development of the acquisition and control of action-effect associations
- Acta Psychologica
- Volume | Issue number
- 115 | 2-3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Voluntary action is anticipatory and, hence, must depend on associations between actions and their perceivable effects. We studied the acquisition of action-effect associations in 4-5-vs. 7-year-old children. Children carried out key-pressing actions that were arranged to produce particular auditory effects. In a subsequent test phase, children were to press keys in response to the previous effect sounds, with the sound-key mapping being either consistent or inconsistent with previous key-sound practice. Four-year-olds but not 7-year-olds were more likely to commit an error-- i.e., to perform a sound-compatible rather than the correct action--if the sound-key mapping was inconsistent with previous practice. In contrast, reaction time effects of mapping consistency did not depend on previous experience but only on the consistency between stimulus and action effect in the present task. Taken altogether, the results suggest that children acquire response-effect associations automatically and that younger children are more likely to suffer from frequent goal neglect; i.e., they tend to forget the current action goal, so that their behavior is dominated by automatic, stimulus-triggered response tendencies.
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