ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (9): 975-984.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00975

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The influence of different status of the observer’s responding hands on observational learning in the joint task

Xiaolei SONG1(),Yangyang LI2,Qian YANG1,Xuqun YOU1()   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Behavior and Cognitive Neuroscience, Xi’an 710062, China;
    2 Henan Police College, Zhengzhou 450046, China
  • Received:2017-06-19 Published:2018-09-15 Online:2018-07-27
  • Supported by:


Observational learning, which refers to improving performance by observation without physical practice, is one of the most important human capacities. Although a large amount of studies have shown that observational and physical practice can both acquire a comparable motor learning in individual context, and the status of the responding hands play a crucial role in this process, few researches focused on observational learning in joint context. Hence we presented three experiments that adopted a joint Simon task to explore the conditions under which observational learning occurred by assessing whether it is affected by the status of the observer’s responding hands.
By adopting a modified version of the social transfer of learning paradigm, three behavioral experiments were conducted to explore the emergence of observational learning under joint task and the influence of status of body-parts (response hands) on observational learning. The aim of experiment 1 was to investigate whether observational learning took place in joint context. In Experiment 2, the status of the observer’s hands were changed in observational learning. It should be noted that during practice phase, observers positioned their hands constrained on the knee in front of them. In Experiment 3, the possible influence of view range furtherly on observational learning was clarified by manipulating the view range and status of the observer’s hands. Specifically, the observer was asked to constrain his hands behind the back in practice phase.
The results above demonstrated that either the observer or the actor in switch condition showed a significant joint Simon effect, while both of them didn’t show this effect in non-switch condition. Contrast to the condition in which the observer’s hands were free, the joint Simon effect increased in constrained condition when the observer’s hands were within his sight. Meanwhile, the same effect was also present when the observer’s hands constrained behind the back as compared to in front of them.
It can be concluded that both observational learning and physical keypress practice in joint context could transfer into comparable motor learning which has an effect on the subsequent joint task. Moreover, the occurrence of observational learning depends on the potential motor abilities of the observer, which suggests that changes in body status affect the observer’s cognitive performance in subsequent joint task whether in or out of his sight. All of above provide empirical research for embodied cognition.

Key words: joint Simon task, observational learning, social transfer of learning effect, embodied cognition

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