Self-reference in action: Arm-movement responses are enhanced in perceptual matching

Clea Desebrock, Jie Sui, Charles Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Considerable evidence now shows that making a reference to the self in a task modulates attention, perception, memory, and decision-making. Furthermore, the self-reference effect (SRE) cannot be reduced to domain-general factors (e.g., reward value) and is supported by distinct neural circuitry. However, it remains unknown whether self-associations modulate response execution as well. This was tested in the present study. Participants carried out a perceptual-matching task, and movement time (MT) was measured separately from reaction-time (RT; drawing on methodology from the literature on intelligence). A response box recorded ‘home’-button-releases (measuring RT from stimulus onset); and a target-key positioned 14 cm from the response box recorded MT (from ‘home’-button-release to target-key depression). MTs of responses to self- as compared with other-person-associated stimuli were faster (with a higher proportion correct for self-related responses). We present a novel demonstration that the SRE can modulate the execution of rapid-aiming arm-movement responses. Implications of the findings are discussed, along with suggestions to guide and inspire future work in investigating how the SRE influences action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychologica
Early online date25 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


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