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Journal Article

Task representation in individual and joint settings


Prinz,  Wolfgang
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Prinz, W. (2015). Task representation in individual and joint settings. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9: 268. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00268.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-7E5B-F
This paper outlines a framework for task representation and discusses applications to interference tasks in individual and joint settings. The framework is derived from the Theory of Event Coding (TEC). This theory regards task sets as transient assemblies of event codes in which stimulus and response codes interact and shape each other in particular ways. On the one hand, stimulus and response codes compete with each other within their respective subsets (horizontal interactions). On the other hand, stimulus and response code cooperate with each other (vertical interactions). Code interactions instantiating competition and cooperation apply to two time scales: on-line performance (i.e., doing the task) and off-line implementation (i.e., setting the task). Interference arises when stimulus and response codes overlap in features that are irrelevant for stimulus identification, but relevant for response selection. To resolve this dilemma, the feature profiles of event codes may become restructured in various ways. The framework is applied to three kinds of interference paradigms. Special emphasis is given to joint settings where tasks are shared between two participants. Major conclusions derived from these applications include: (1) Response competition is the chief driver of interference. Likewise, different modes of response competition give rise to different patterns of interference; (2) The type of features in which stimulus and response codes overlap is also a crucial factor. Different types of such features give likewise rise to different patterns of interference; and (3) Task sets for joint settings conflate intraindividual conflicts between responses (what), with interindividual conflicts between responding agents (whom). Features of response codes may, therefore, not only address responses, but also responding agents (both physically and socially).