The way people gesture impacts problem-solving performance. Particularly gestures that are incompatible with the actions required for subsequent problem-solving slow down problem-solving performance (i.e. interference effect). We investigated whether this interference effect holds if the task allows for only one type of movement (left-to-right movement) instead of a mixture of movement types. Additionally, we studied whether gestures compatible with the actions required for problem-solving facilitate subsequent problem-solving performance. Participants solved a Tower of Hanoi (TOH), then explained the problem-solution with gestures or did not explain the problem-solution, and solved the TOH again. During the second TOH, half of the participants solved the TOH in the same direction (left-to-right), the other half in the opposite direction (right-to-left). Results showed that compatible gestures resulted in faster problem-solving (facilitation effect) but incompatible gestures did not slow down performance (no interference effect). Our study shows that gesturing supports but does not interfere with problem-solving.
The authors express their gratitude to Daymi Bakker, Mick
Bakker, Matthijs van den Berg, Linde Dorenbos, Tessa de
Jong, Jet Kummeling, Daniëlle Lasker, Laura Neefjes, Bariënne van Os, Maud de Regt, Soanne van der Scheer and
Mirjam de Vries for their assistance in data collection.
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