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The effects of task complexity and response probability on response latency Ryan, Mark William John

Abstract

The purpose of the investigation was to study the joint effects of response probability and task complexity on response latency in simple and choice reaction time tasks. Sixteen, volunteer, University of British Columbia Physical Education students performed all four experimental conditions, one simple reaction time task and three choice reaction time tasks. Response latencies for 800 trials were obtained from each subject. Analysis of variance for a repeated measures design was used to analyse the data, with Harter and Newman-Keuls post-hoc multiple comparisons performed to test for significant differences between conditions. The empirical findings were generally not in agreement with the predicted hypotheses. It was found that very fast response latencies were made to complex tasks combined with low probability of occurrence. Subjects were also better prepared to initiate a response to an easy task with a low response probability than an easy task with a high response probability. It appears that subjects adopted a defensive type of strategy and that low response probability has more effect than high response probability on response latencies of choice reaction time tasks of unequal complexity.

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