The Joint Action Effect on Memory as a Social Phenomenon: The Role of Cued Attention and Psychological Distance
Task co-representation has been proposed to rely on the motor brain areas' capacity to represent others' action plans similarly to one's own. The joint memory (JM) effect suggests that working in parallel with others influences the depth of incidental encoding: Other-relevant items are better encoded than non-task-relevant items. Using this paradigm, we investigated whether task co-representation could also emerge for non-motor tasks. In Experiment 1, we found enhanced recall performance to stimuli relevant to the co-actor also when the participants' task required non-motor responses (counting the target words) instead of key-presses. This suggests that the JM effect did not depend on simulating the co-actor's motor responses. In Experiment 2, direct visual access to the co-actor and his actions was found to be unnecessary to evoke the JM effect in case of the non-motor, but not in case of the motor task. Prior knowledge of the co-actor's target category is sufficient to evoke deeper incidental encoding. Overall, these findings indicate that the capacity of task co-representation extends beyond the realm of motor tasks: Simulating the other's motor actions is not necessary in this process.