Endogenous orienting modulates the Simon effect: critical factors in experimental design

Elger Abrahamse, Rob H J Van der Lubbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Responses are faster when the side of stimulus and response correspond than when they do not correspond, even if stimulus location is irrelevant to the task at hand: the correspondence, spatial compatibility effect, or Simon effect. Generally, it is assumed that an automatically generated spatial code is responsible for this effect, but the precise mechanism underlying the formation of this code is still under dispute. Two major alternatives have been proposed: the referential-coding account, which can be subdivided into a static version and an attention-centered version, and the attention-shift account. These accounts hold clear-cut predictions for attentional cuing experiments. The former would assume a Simon effect irrespective of attentional cuing in its static version, whereas the attention-centered version of the referential-coding account and the attention-shift account would predict a decreased Simon effect on validly as opposed to invalid cued trials. However, results from previous studies are equivocal to the effects of attentional cuing on the Simon effect. We argue here that attentional cueing reliably modulates the Simon effect if some crucial experimental conditions, mostly relevant for optimizing attentional allocation, are met. Furthermore, we propose that the Simon effect may be better understood within the perspective of supra-modal spatial attention, thereby providing an explanation for observed discrepancies in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-72
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Research = Psychologische Forschung: An international journal of perception, learning and communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Cues
  • Eye Movements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Theory
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception


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