It has been demonstrated that visual objects activate responses spatially corresponding to the orientation (left or right) of their graspable parts. To investigate the role of attention orienting in the generation of this effect, which we will refer to as affordance effect, we ran three experiments in which the target stimulus could either correspond or not with a dynamic event capturing attention. Participants were required to press a left or right key according to the vertical orientation (upward or inverted) of objects presented with their handles oriented to the right or to the left. In Experiments 1 and 2, the objects were located above or below fixation, while in Experiment 3, to assess the contemporary presence of the affordance and Simon effects, the objects were located to the left or right of fixation. The results showed that while the affordance effect, when evident, was always relative to the target object, irrespective of its attentional capturing properties, the Simon effect occurred relative to the event capturing attention. These findings suggest that automatic and controlled processes of visual attention may play a differential role in the occurrence of the two effects.
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