Is there a lower visual field advantage for object affordances? A registered report

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It’s been repeatedly shown that pictures of graspable objects can facilitate visual processing, even in the absence of reach-to-grasp actions, an effect often attributed to the concept of affordances. A classic demonstration of this is the handle compatibility effect, characterised by faster reaction times when the orientation of a graspable object’s handle is compatible with the hand used to respond, even when the handle orientation is task-irrelevant. Nevertheless, it is debated whether the speeded reaction times are a result of affordances or spatial compatibility. First, we investigated whether we could replicate the handle compatibility effect while controlling for spatial compatibility. Participants (N = 68) responded with left or right-handed keypresses to whether the object was upright or inverted and, in separate blocks, whether the object was red or green. We failed to replicate the handle compatibility effect, with no significant difference between compatible and incompatible conditions, in both tasks. Second, we investigated whether there is a lower visual field (VF) advantage for the handle compatibility effect in line with what has been found for hand actions. A further 68 participants responded to object orientation presented either in the upper or lower VF. A significant handle compatibility effect was observed in the lower VF, but not the upper VF. This suggests that there is a lower VF advantage for affordances, possibly as the lower VF is where our actions most frequently occur. However, future studies should explore the impact of eye movements on the handle compatibility effect and tool affordances.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Early online date26 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jan 2024


  • Perception
  • affordances
  • grasping
  • hand
  • reaction time
  • visual field

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