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Task-switching costs disappear if non-Chinese participants respond to Chinese characters

Li, Xiangqian and Li, Bingxin and Liu, Xuhong and Lages, Martin and Stoet, Gijsbert (2019) 'Task-switching costs disappear if non-Chinese participants respond to Chinese characters.' Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45 (11). 2051 - 2071. ISSN 0278-7393

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In experiments with univalent target stimuli, task-switching costs can be eliminated if participants are unaware of the task rules and apply cue-target-response associations. However, in experiments with bivalent target stimuli, participants show task-switching costs. Participants may exhibit switch costs even when no task rules are provided in the instructions because they can infer the task rules. We tested this prediction by controlling the meaningfulness of cues and targets and therefore the ability to apply the task rules in 2 groups of participants. We compared the performance of Chinese and non-Chinese participants, who responded to Chinese numerals in an odd/even and high/low number task. In Experiment 1, Chinese participants, who knew Chinese characters and understood the task rules, showed task-switching costs. Non-Chinese participants on the other hand, who did not know Chinese characters, exhibited no switch costs. They applied a “target-first” strategy which means that they processed the target stimulus before the cue. In Experiment 2, we confirmed the absence of task-switching costs in Chinese participants using traditional Chinese numerals as target stimuli. Further, to determine how the target-first strategy affects switch costs, we manipulated the sequence of cue and target presentations. We conclude that task- switching costs can be eliminated more easily than previously thought, even for bivalent stimuli. The occurrence of task-switching costs depends on the approach used by participants and this may answer the puzzling question why humans typically do show task-switching costs whereas pigeons and monkeys do not.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2019 12:00
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2019 21:15

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