A model of the uncertainty effects in choice reaction time that includes a major contribution from effector selection.

Hick’s law describes the relation between choice reaction time (RT) and the number of stimulus-response alternatives (NA). For over half a century, this uncertainty effect has been ascribed primarily to the time taken to map a stimulus to its associated response. Here, data from 2 experiments suggests that selection of the appropriate effector—the particular body part to make a response—also contributes substantially to the uncertainty effect. This insight is important both for our understanding of basic cognitive architecture and because many classic experiments studying stimulus-response mapping have confounded NA with the number of effectors. Our data also suggest that, when stimuli are spatial and linked to the responses in an intuitively simple layout, the time required for stimulus-response mapping depends minimally on the NA, independent of effector. Experiment 1 demonstrated that in order to account for the complex patterns of uncertainty effects observed when stimulus type (spatial vs. symbolic), response mode (typing, with multiple effectors vs. touching with a single, known effector), and participant population (skilled vs. novice typists) are all manipulated a model is required that includes effector selection, along with stimulus-response mapping, and a proper treatment of stimulus-response repetitions. Using spatial indicator stimuli that minimized the contributions of stimulus-response mapping, Experiment 2 compared 4 effector conditions—the factorial combination of 1 or 3 fingers on one or both hands. The results showed that the increase in the uncertainty effect associated with the number of effectors is negatively accelerated and possibly additive across the variation of hands and fingers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)