The influence of skill and task complexity on perception of nested affordances

Ludovic Seifert, Matt Dicks, Frieder Wittmann, Peter Wolf*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study investigated how skill level and task complexity influence the calibration of perception-action and particularly how close an individual acts relative to his/her maximal action capabilities. Complexity was manipulated between two (Touch, Grasp) and more than two (Removing, Moving Up) nested affordance conditions. For all conditions, we examined whether advanced climbers have greater maximal action capabilities, than intermediate climbers or whether they better scaled their action (i.e., act nearer to their maximal action capabilities) or both. Eleven intermediate and eleven advanced male climbers were first asked to estimate the maximum distance that they could reach a climbing hold. The hold was moved along a slide and fixed once requested by the participant; subsequently, the distance to the starting hold was measured. After each estimation, the participant was required to execute the climbing action. After four estimation-action trials in each of the four conditions, the maximal action capability (i.e., actual maximal reaching distance), was determined. Advanced climbers demonstrated greater actual maximal reaching distances than intermediate climbers for all conditions, but they only estimated greater maximal reaching distances for the more complex conditions, which featured more than two nested affordances. When estimated maximal reaching distances were scaled to actual maximal reaching distances, advanced climbers did not differ from intermediate climbers for any condition and there were no differences between conditions. Our findings indicate that expertise was a function of greater action capabilities but not due to the accuracy of calibration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3240-3249
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, & Psychophysics
Issue number8
Early online date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • perception-action coupling
  • affordances
  • perceptual-motor control


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