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Action Control and multitasking

People use their bodies in many ways to achieve specific goals. In other words, they act. The movements used here range from simple pointing gestures to complex movements in the context of speech production - but even the production of simple movements proves to be extremely complex. The core of our work on action selection is the so-called ideomotor principle, which we examine on the basis of simple tasks, but also in the context of multitasking. Furthermore, we are interested in certain interference phenomena that can occur during multitasking.

Anticipative action control: ideomotorism

The ideomotor principle goes back to Phlilosophers of the 19th century (see Pfister & Janczyk, 2012) and has been "rediscovered" in the past 30 years as an object of psychological research. In short, the basic idea is that a motor action is selected by mentally anticipating those sensory states that would result from the movement. This is nowadays referred to as "effect anticipation". In fact, some indications of the validity of this idea could be provided by experimental work.

Exemplary publications:

Janczyk, M., & Lerche, V. (2019). A diffusion model analysis of the response-effect compatibility effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148, 237-251.

Janczyk, M., Durst, M., & Ulrich, R. (2017). Action selection by temporally distal goal-states. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 24, 467-473.

Pfister, R., & Janczyk, M. (2012). Harleß' Apparatus of Will: 150 years later. Psychological Research, 76, 561-565.

Ideomotor complex: multitasking

Almost always people are likely to be involved in more than one task at a time, so they usually multitask. Often (but not always) this leads to performance losses in the tasks and to explain such "dual task costs" several causes are discussed. Building on our work on ideomotor behavior, we examine the extent to which action goals or their anticipation also contribute to the costs incurred. On the one hand, we examine to what extent the simultaneous maintenance of several target states could already be problematic (overview in Janczyk, 2016, and Janczyk & Kunde, 2020) and, on the other hand, to what extent the monitoring of the actual occurrence of the desired goal causes additional costs. This aspect was examined in the DFG project JA2307 / 3-1.

Exemplary publications:

Janczyk, M., & Kunde, W. (2020). Dual tasking from a goal perspective. Psychological Review, 127, 1079-1096.

Wirth, R., Janczyk, M., & Kunde, W. (2018). Effect monitoring in dual-task performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44, 553-571.

Wirth, R., Steinhauser, R., Janczyk, M., Steinhauser, M., & Kunde, W. (2018). Long-term and short-term action-effect links and their impact on effect monitoring. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44, 1186-1198.

Janczyk, M. (2016). Die Rolle von Handlungszielen bei der Entstehung von Doppelaufgabenkosten. Psychologische Rundschau, 67, 237-249.

Janczyk, M., Pfister, R., Hommel, B., & Kunde, W. (2014). Who is talking in backward crosstalk? Disentangling response- from goal-conflict in dual-task performance. Cognition, 132, 30-43.

Interference between tasks in multitasking

In addition to the general double-tasking costs, there are even more specific forms of interference between tasks in multi-tasking. In particular, we are investigating the case of the so-called "backward crosstalk" in which aspects of a second task already influence the performance in the first task. We try to empirically isolate different forms of such crosstalk effects and theoretically describe their causes. This work was funded by the MWK Baden-Württemberg and is now part of the DFG project JA 2307 / 6-1 as part of the DFG Priority Program 1772 and will be published in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Rolf Ulrich (Tübingen) performed.

Exemplary publications:

Bratzke, D., & Janczyk, M. (accepted/in press). Introspection about backward crosstalk in dual-task performance. Psychological Research.

Schonard, C., Ulrich, R., & Janczyk, M. (accepted/in press). The Backward Crosstalk Effect does not depend on the degree of a preceding response conflict. Experimental Psychology.

Koob, V., Durst, M., Bratzke, D., Ulrich, R., & Janczyk, M. (2020). S1-R2 and R1-R2 Backward Crosstalk both affect the central processing stage. Journal of Cognition, 3(1), 1-12.

Durst, M., & Janczyk, M. (2019). Two types of Backward Crosstalk: Sequential modulations and evidence from the diffusion model. Acta Psychologica, 193, 132-152.

Durst,  M., Ulrich, R., & Janczyk, M. (2019). To prepare or not to prepare? When preparation of a response in Task 2 induces extra performance costs in Task 1. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 26, 654-660.

Schuch, S., Dignath, D., Steinhauser, M., & Janczyk, M. (2019). Monitoring and control in multitasking. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 26, 222-240.

Durst, M., & Janczyk, M. (2018). The motor locus of the no-go based backward crosstalk. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44, 1931-1946.

Janczyk, M., Renas, S., & Durst, M. (2018). Identifying the locus of compatibility-based backward crosstalk: Evidence from an extended PRP paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44, 261-276.

Intentional versus Non-intentional behavior: Free-choice tasks

Sometimes the idea is held that there are two types of actions that can be qualitatively differentiated, so-called stimulus-based vs. intentions-based actions, whereby only the latter would be subject to the ideomotor principle. For their operationalization in the laboratory then often free-choice tasks are used, in which a subject himself can choose between several options. Based on the assumption of no qualitative distinction, we examine the extent to which Free Choice and Forced Choice tasks actually differ and how Free Choice tasks come to a decision. This work will be carried out as part of the DFG project JA 2307 / 1-2.

Exemplary publications:

Janczyk, M., Naefgen, C., & Kunde, W. (2020). Are freely chosen actions generated by stimulus codes or effect codes? Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 3767-3773.

Naefgen, C., Dambacher, M., & Janczyk, M. (2018). Why free choices take longer than forced choices: Evidence from response threshold manipulations. Psychological Research, 82, 1039-1052.

Naefgen, C., & Janczyk, M. (2018). Free choice tasks as random generation tasks: An investigation through working memory manipulations. Experimental Brain Research, 236, 2263-2275.

Janczyk, M., Dambacher, M., Bieleke, M., & Gollwitzer, P.M. (2015). The benefit of no choice: Goal-directed plans enhance perceptual processing. Psychological Research, 79, 206-220.

Janczyk, M., Nolden, S. & Jolicoeur, P. (2015). No differences in dual-task costs between forced- and free-choice tasks. Psychological Research, 79, 463-477.