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    Contextual determinants of the social-transfer-of-learning effect.

    Exp Brain Res 2011 Jun 22;211(3-4):415-22. Epub 2011 Apr 22.
    Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy.
    A recent study (Milanese et al. in Cogn 116(1):15-22, 2010) showed that performing a spatial compatibility task with incompatible S-R links (i.e., the practice task) alongside a co-actor eliminates the Simon effect in a subsequent joint Simon task (i.e., the transfer task). In the present study, we conducted three experiments to individuate which elements of the practice task need to remain constant for this social-transfer-of-learning to occur. In Experiment 1, participants performed the practice task alongside a co-actor and the Simon task with a different co-actor; in Experiment 2, they performed the practice task alongside a co-actor and the Simon task with the same co-actor after exchanging their seats. Results showed a modulation of the joint Simon effect in Experiment 1 only. In Experiment 2, we found a regular joint Simon effect. These results indicate that, while co-actor identity is not crucial, other elements of the context, such as keeping the same position across tasks, are necessary for the social-transfer-of-learning to occur. On the whole, our data suggest that the social-transfer-of-learning effect is not tuned to a specific co-actor and depends on spatial parameters of the practice and transfer tasks.
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