Being selective at the plate: Processing dependence between perceptual variables relates to hitting goals and performance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Performance of a skill that involves acting on a goal object (e.g., a ball to be hit) can influence one's judgment of the size and speed of that object. The present study examined how these action-specific effects are affected when the goal of the actor is varied and they are free to choose between alternative actions. In Experiment 1, expert baseball players were asked to perform three different directional hitting tasks in a batting simulation and make interleaved perceptual judgments about three ball parameters (speed, plate crossing location, and size). Perceived ball size was largest (and perceived speed was slowest) when the ball crossing location was optimal for the particular hitting task the batter was performing (e.g., an "outside" pitch for opposite-field hitting). The magnitude of processing dependency between variables (speed vs. location and size vs. location) was positively correlated with batting performance. In Experiment 2, the action-specific effects observed in Experiment 1 were mimicked by systematically changing the ball diameter in the simulation as a function of plate crossing location. The number of swing initiations was greater when ball size was larger, and batters were more successful in the hitting task for which the larger pitches were optimal (e.g., greater number of pull hits than opposite-field hits when "inside" pitches were larger). These findings suggest attentional accentuation of goal-relevant targets underlies action-related changes in perception and are consistent with an action selection role for these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1142
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Action
  • Perception
  • Performance
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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