The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Publication date: 2012-01
Volume: 65 Pages: 1059 - 1067
ISSN: 1747-0218, 1747-0226
Publisher: Psychology Press


Desmet, Charlotte
Imbo, Ineke ; De Brauwer, Jolien ; Brass, Marcel ; Fias, Wim ; Notebaert, Wim


1701 Psychology, 1702 Cognitive Science, Experimental Psychology


Until now, error and conflict adaptation have been studied extensively using simple laboratory tasks. A common finding is that responses slow down after errors. According to the conflict monitoring theory, performance should also improve after an error. However, this is usually not observed. In this study, we investigated if the characteristics of the experimental paradigms normally used could explain this absence. More precisely, these paradigms have in common that behavioural adaptation has little room to express itself. We therefore studied error and conflict adaptation effects in a task that encounters the richness of everyday life’s behavioural adaptation, namely mental arithmetic, where multiple solution strategies are available. In accordance with our hypothesis, we observed post error accuracy increases after errors in mental arithmetic. No support for conflict adaptation in mental arithmetic was found. Implications for current theories of conflict and error monitoring are discussed.