Predictive person models elicit motor biases: The face-inhibition effect revisited

Kimberley C. Schenke, Natalie A. Wyer, Steven P. Tipper, Patric Bach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Using an established paradigm, we tested whether people derive motoric predictions about an actor’s forthcoming actions from prior knowledge about them and the context in which they are seen. In two experiments, participants identified famous tennis and soccer players using either hand or foot responses. Athletes were shown either carrying out or not carrying out their associated actions (swinging, kicking), either in the context where these actions are typically seen (tennis court, soccer Pitch) or outside these contexts (beach, awards ceremony). Replicating prior work, identifying non-acting athletes revealed the negative compatibility effects: viewing tennis players led to faster responses with a foot than a hand, and vice versa for viewing soccer players. Consistent with the idea that negative compatibility effects result from the absence of a predicted action, these effects were eliminated (or reversed) when the athletes were seen carrying out actions typically associated with them. Strikingly, however, these motoric biases were not limited to In-Context trials but were, if anything, more robust in the Out-of-Context trials. This pattern held even when attention was drawn specifically to the context (Experiment 2). These results confirm that people hold motoric knowledge about the actions that others typically carry out and that these actions are part of perceptual representations that are accessed when those others are re-encountered, possibly in order to resolve uncertainty in person perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Embodied cognition
  • motor priming
  • person memory
  • predictive processing
  • social perception

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