Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2019, Vol. 51 Issue (8) : 879-889     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00879
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Enhancement effect of near spatial distance on self-referential processing: Evidence from behavioral and ERPs studies
ZHANG Pengcheng1,LI Yangzhuo2,ZHOU Shujin1,GAO Xiangping1(),PAN Xin3
1 Department of Psychology, School of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China
2 The School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
3 Nanjing Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, Nanjing 211100, China
Download: PDF(1285 KB)   HTML Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks     Supporting Info

Self-reference can improve the memorization of stimulated information, and this is a phenomenon called the self-referential effect. Previous studies from the perspective of social distance (such as parents, friends, and strangers) show that the speed of processing or classifying stimulus and memory performance under self-reference significantly outperform the cases under other-reference. Other than social distance, another concept greatly influences individual cognition and behavior: spatial distance. However, research from the perspective of spatial distance is scant. To broaden the perspectives on the self-referential effect, we constructed different distance conditions through a 2D corridor and investigated how spatial distance affects self-referential processing through a learning-recognition paradigm and event-related potential techniques. Neutral nouns were used as the experimental materials.

We designed a 2 (reference: self, other) ×2 (distance: far, near) within groups design and added a stranger reference as the alert group. The corridor has three grids: the upper, middle, and lower grids. In the learning stage, the neutral noun was randomly presented in the middle grid while the name was also shown randomly in the upper or lower grid. Two levels of the distance variable were measured by the distance between the middle and the upper or lower grids. Participants were required to press the up arrow“↑”when name (except stranger’s name) appeared in the upper grid, and press the down arrow“↓”when name (except stranger’s name) appeared below. If a stranger’s name appeared in any grid, the participants had to press “f”. And try to associate the words with the names in mind during experiment. After a simple calculation of the interference task, a surprise recognition test was conducted. The response time, accuracy rate and EEG data of the participants were recorded during the experiment.

The results showed that the response time under self-reference was significantly shorter than that under other-reference, and the response time of near-distance was significantly shorter than far-distance. The main effects of distance on the amplitude of P1 and N1 components and the latency of N1 component were significant, whereas the main effects of reference on those aspects were not significant. Self-referential and other-referential processing in near-distance induced larger LPC amplitude and right frontal activation relative to the far-distance alternative. In the recognition stage, memory performance in self-reference was significantly better than that in other-reference, and such performance under the near-distance condition was significantly better than that under the far-distance situation. However, memory performances under other-reference with the far- and near-distance conditions were not significant.

This study broadens our understanding of self-referential processing from the perspective of spatial distance. Compared with the far-distance condition, the near-distance counterpart enhances self-referential processing; thus, when individuals process the self-reference information in the near-distance, greater LPC amplitude and right frontal activation as well as better memory performance is achieved. This study provides implications for future exploration of the self-referential effect from the perspective of spatial distance.

Keywords self-referential processing      spatial distance      enhancement effect     
ZTFLH:  B842  
Corresponding Authors: Xiangping GAO     E-mail:
Issue Date: 24 June 2019
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
Articles by authors
Pengcheng ZHANG
Yangzhuo LI
Shujin ZHOU
Xiangping GAO
Cite this article:   
Pengcheng ZHANG,Yangzhuo LI,Shujin ZHOU, et al. Enhancement effect of near spatial distance on self-referential processing: Evidence from behavioral and ERPs studies[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(8): 879-889.
URL:     OR
组别 熟悉度 频率 效价 唤醒度
近我 4.33 0.70 0.0022 0.0019 2.53 0.57 2.77 0.64
远我 4.38 0.60 0.0020 0.0014 2.56 0.54 2.72 0.62
近他 4.36 0.72 0.0019 0.0012 2.57 0.56 2.80 0.65
远他 4.32 0.74 0.0022 0.0018 2.55 0.60 2.79 0.65
新词 4.34 0.65 0.0025 0.0020 2.60 0.54 2.74 0.59
变量 学习阶段RT (ms) 正确再认RT (ms) 正确再认N
近我 707.50 164.61 788.85 121.69 16.22 5.08
远我 725.42 167.38 785.08 140.79 14.63 4.70
近他 745.09 162.02 788.70 175.26 13.48 4.70
远他 769.65 168.27 790.05 135.95 14.67 4.96
[1] Abrams R. A., Davoli C. C., Du F., Iii W. H. K., & Paull D . ( 2008). Altered vision near the hands. Cognition, 107(3), 1035-1047.
[2] Allan K., Morson S., Dixon S., Martin D., & Cunningham S. J . ( 2017). Simulation-based mentalizing generates a "proxy" self-reference effect in memory. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(6), 1074-1084.
[3] Argembeau A. D., Comblain C., & van der Linden, M. .,( 2005). Affective valence and the self-reference effect: Influence of retrieval conditions. British Journal of Psychology, 96(4), 457-466.
[4] Chen J., Yuan J., Feng T., Chen A., Gu B., & Li H . ( 2011). Temporal features of the degree effect in self-relevance: Neural correlates. Biological Psychology, 87(2), 290-295.
[5] Dainer-best J., Trujillo L. T., Schnyer D. M., & Beevers C. G . ( 2017). Sustained engagement of attention is associated with increased negative self-referent processing in major depressive disorder. Biological Psychology, 129, 231-241.
[6] Fan W., Chen J., Wang X-Y., Cai R., Tan Q., Chen Y., … Zhong Y. P . ( 2013). Electrophysiological correlation of the degree of self-reference effect. PLoS One, 8(12), e80289.
[7] Fan W., Zhong Y. P., Li J., Yang Z., Zhan Y., Cai R., & Fu X. L . ( 2016). Negative emotion weakens the degree of self-reference effect: Evidence from ERPs. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1408.
[8] Fields E.C., &Kuperberg G.R, . ( 2016). Dynamic effects of self-relevance and task on the neural processing of emotional words in context. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 2003.
[9] Fujita K., Henderson M. D., Eng J., Trope Y., & Liberman N . ( 2006). Spatial distance and mental construal of social events. Psychological Science, 17(4), 278-282.
[10] Gregg A. P., Mahadevan N., & Sedikides C . ( 2017). The SPOT effect: people spontaneously prefer their own theories. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(6), 996-1010.
[11] Griffin I. C., Miniussi C., & Nobre A. C . ( 2002). Multiple mechanisms of selective attention: differential modulation of stimulus processing by attention to space or time. Neuropsychologia, 40(13), 2325-2340.
[12] Grilli M. D., Woolverton C. B., Crawford M. S., & Glisky E. L . ( 2018). Self-reference and emotional memory effects in older adults at increased genetic risk of alzheimer’s disease. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 25(2), 186-199.
[13] Handy T. C., Grafton S. T., Shroff N. M., Ketay S., & Gazzaniga M. S . ( 2003). Graspable objects grab attention when the potential for action is recognized. Nature Neuroscience, 6(4), 421-427.
[14] Henderson M. D., Fujita K., Trope Y., & Liberman N . ( 2006). Transcending the"here": The effect of spatial distance on social judgment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(5), 845-856.
[15] Kalenzaga S., &Jouhaud V. , ( 2018). The self-reference effect in memory: An implicit way to assess affective self- representations in social anxiety. Memory, 26(7), 894-903.
[16] Kalenzaga S., Sperduti M., Anssens A., Martinelli P., Devauchelle A-D., Gallarda T., … Piolino P . ( 2015). Episodic memory and self-reference via semantic autobiographical memory: Insights from an fMRI study in younger and older adults. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 8, 449.
[17] Kasai T., Morotomi T., Katayama J. I., & Kumada T . ( 2003). Attending to a location in three-dimensional space modulates early ERPs. Cognitive Brain Research, 17(2), 273-285.
[18] Keenan J. P., Nelson A., O'Connor M., & Pascual-Leone A . ( 2001). Neurology: Self-recognition and the right hemisphere. Nature, 409(6818), 305-306.
[19] Kim H. .( 2012). A dual-subsystem model of the brain's default network: Self-referential processing, memory retrieval processes, and autobiographical memory retrieval. Neuroimage, 61(4), 966-977.
[20] Klein S.B . ( 2012). Self, memory, and the self-reference effect: An examination of conceptual and methodological issues. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16(3), 283-300.
[21] Klimesch W., Sauseng P., & Hanslmayr S . ( 2007). EEG alpha oscillations: the inhibition-timing hypothesis. Brain Research Reviews, 53(1), 63-88.
[22] Kolb L.E . ( 2015). Friend or foe? The relationship between facebook use and satisfaction and jealousy in long-distance dating relationships. Pepperdine Journal of Communication Research, 3(1), 2.
[23] Kong F., Chen H., Zhang Y., & Kou H . ( 2012). The self-reference effect in evaluating physical and inner ugliness: An event related-potential study. International Conference on Fuzzy Systems and Knowledge Discovery, 9, 3004-3008.
[24] Leshikar E.D., &Duarte A. , ( 2014). Medial prefrontal cortex supports source memory for self-referenced materials in young and older adults. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 14(1), 236-252.
[25] Li H., Liang L. Y., Zhang X., & Gao X. R . ( 2016). Understanding the face perception in the early stage through P1. Beijing Biomedical Engineering, 35(6), 551-560.
[25] [ 李航, 梁栗炎, 张旭, 高小榕 . ( 2016). 基于事件相关电位P1的人脸视觉信息早期加工研究. 北京生物医学工程, 35(6), 551-560.]
[26] Li W. H., Jiang Z. Q., Li C., Liu Y., & Liu F. B . ( 2015). Spatio-temporal features of internal self-reference processing in brain:evidence from the ERP. Psychological Exploration, 35(2), 147-152.
[26] [ 李文辉, 蒋重清, 李婵, 刘颖, 刘富斌 . ( 2015). 人脑加工自我参照任务的时空特点: 来自ERP的证据. 心理学探新, 35(2), 147-152.]
[27] Liu P., Forte J., Sewell D., & Carter O . ( 2018). Cognitive load effects on early visual perceptual processing. Attention Perception and Psychophysics, 80(4), 929-950.
[28] Ma Y., & Han S. , ( 2010). Why we respond faster to the self than to others? An implicit positive association theory of self-advantage during implicit face recognition. Journal of Experimental psychology. Human Perception and Performance, 36(3), 619-633.
[29] Markman A.B., & Brendl C.M . ( 2005). Constraining theories of embodied cognition. Psychological Science, 16(1), 6-10.
[30] Morita T., Saito D. N., Ban M., Shimada K., Okamoto Y., Kosaka H., … Naito E . ( 2018). Self-face recognition begins to share active region in right inferior parietal lobule with proprioceptive illusion during adolescence. Cerebral Cortex, 28(4), 1532-1548.
[31] Natale E., Marzi C. A., Girelli M., Pavone E. F., & Pollmann S . ( 2006). ERP and fMRI correlates of endogenous and exogenous focusing of visual-spatial attention. European Journal of Neuroscience, 23(9), 2511-2521.
[32] Oakes M.A., & Onyper S.V . ( 2017). The movement-induced self-reference effect: Enhancing memorability through movement toward the self. Cognitive Processing, 18(3), 325-333.
[33] Peng X., Jiao C., Cui F., Chen Q., Li P., & Li H . ( 2017). The time course of indirect moral judgment in gossip processing modulated by different agents. Psychophysiology, 54(10), 1459-1471.
[34] Reed C. L., Grubb J. D., & Steele C . ( 2006). Hands up: attentional prioritization of space near the hand. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 32(1), 166-177.
[35] Rogers T. B., Kuiper N. A., & Kirker W. S . ( 1977). Self-reference and the encoding of personal information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35(9), 677-688.
[36] Sambo C.F., & Forster B. , ( 2009). An ERP investigation on visuotactile interactions in peripersonal and extrapersonal space: Evidence for the spatial rule. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21(8), 1550-1559.
[37] Slagter H. A., Prinssen S., Reteig L. C., & Mazaheri A . ( 2016). Facilitation and inhibition in attention: Functional dissociation of pre-stimulus alpha activity, P1 and N1 components. Neuroimage, 125, 25-35.
[38] Spence C., & Parise C. , ( 2010). Prior-entry: A review. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(1), 364-379.
[39] Symons C.S., & Johnson B.T . ( 1997). The self-reference effect in memory: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 121(3), 371-394.
[40] Tacikowski P., Brechmann A., & Nowicka A . ( 2013). Cross‐modal pattern of brain activations associated with the processing of self‐and significant other's name. Human Brain Mapping, 34(9), 2069-2077.
[41] Taylor M. J., Arsalidou M., Bayless S. J., Morris D., Evans J. W., & Barbeau E. J . ( 2009). Neural correlates of personally familiar faces: Parents, partner and own faces. Human Brain Mapping, 30(7), 2008-2020.
[42] Trope Y., & Liberman N. , ( 2010). Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological Review, 117(2), 440-463.
[43] Truong G., Chapman C. S., Chisholm J. D., Enns J. T., & Handy T. C . ( 2016). Mine in motion: How physical actions impact the psychological sense of object ownership. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance, 42(3), 375-385.
[44] Valdés-Conroy B., Román F. J., Hinojosa J. A., & Shorkey S. P . ( 2012). So far so good: emotion in the peripersonal/extrapersonal space. PLoS One, 7(11), e49162.
[45] Valdés-Conroy B., Sebastián M., Hinojosa J. A., Román F. J., & Santaniello G . ( 2014). A close look into the near/far space division: A real-distance ERP study. Neuropsychologia, 59, 27-34.
[46] Wang P., Chen Q. W., Tang X. C., Luo J. L., Tan C. H., & Gao F . ( 2017). The situational primacy of Chinese individual self, relational self, collective self: evidence from ERP. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 49(8), 1072-1079.
[46] [ 王沛, 陈庆伟, 唐晓晨, 罗俊龙, 谈晨皓, 高凡 . ( 2017). 中国人三重自我建构加工中的相对优先性: 来自ERP的证据. 心理学报, 49(8), 1072-1079.]
[47] Wang L., & Yao W. , ( 2016). So near, so good: Does near-distance perception reduce interpersonal psychological distance? Social Behavior and Personality an International Journal, 44(6), 889-898.
[48] Yuan J. J., Yang J. M., Meng X. X., Yu F. Q., & Li H . ( 2008). The valence strength of negative stimuli modulates visual novelty processing: Electrophysiological evidence from an event-related potential study. Neuroscience, 157(3), 524-531.
[49] Zhang H. C., & Xu J. P. ,( 2015). Modern psychological and educational statistics . Beijing,China: Beijing Normal University Press.
[49] [ 张厚粲, 徐建平 . ( 2015). 现代心理与教育统计学. 北京: 北京师范大学出版社.]
[50] Zheng J. J., Cai M., Li C. Z., & Shao C . ( 2017). Impacts of decision framing and psychological distance on individual cooperative behavior. Management Review, 29(5), 102-109.
[50] [ 郑君君, 蔡明, 李诚志, 邵聪 . ( 2017). 决策框架、心理距离对个体间合作行为影响的实验研究. 管理评论, 29(5), 102-109.]
[1] WANG Bin, FU Ya, ZHANG Jijia. Influence of language and culture on retrieval-induced forgetting under the self-referential condition: Evidence from the Han and the Mosuo[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(4): 450-461.
[2] YANG Qun,FENG Yiran,ZHANG Jijia. The language and cultural differences of father-reference processing: Based on the retrieval-induced forgetting[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(3): 304-315.
[3] PENG Ming, JING Wenying, CAI Mengfei, ZHOU Zongkui.  Perceptual difference between internet words and real-world words: temporal perception, distance perception, and perceptual scope[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(7): 866-874.
[4] XU Fuming; JIANG Duo; ZHANG Hui; LI Ou; KONG Shixiao; SHI Yanwei. The effect of psychological distance on the base-rate neglect[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(10): 1292-1301.
[5] ZHOU Aibao; ZHAN Fen; MA Xiaofeng; LI Jiansheng; XIA Ruixue. The Cultural Differences of Imam-reference Processing: Based on the Retrieval-induce Forgetting Paradigm Discussed[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(6): 757-764.
[6] CHEN Jiebin; LU Zhongyi. The Effect of Route-angularity on Spatial Situation Model Constructing in Text[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(2): 176-189.
[7] ZHONG Yiping;FAN Wei;CAI Ronghua;TAN Qianbao;XIAO Lihui;ZHAN Youlong;LUO Xi;QIN Minhui. The Influence of Positive Emotion on the Degree Effect in Self-referential Processes: Evidence from ERPs[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2014, 46(3): 341-352 .
[8] WANG Hai-Bao,ZHANG Da-Ren,YU Yong-Qiang. Time Dependence of Enhancement Effects in Emotional Memory[J]. , 2009, 41(10): 932-938.
[9] Yang Hongsheng,Zhu Ying. THE SELF AND RETRIEVAL-INDUCED FORGETTING[J]. , 2004, 36(02): 154-159.
Full text



Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech