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  • Silvia Buscaglione

Competition increases the effort put into a physical interaction task

Updated: Mar 14

Takagi A, Bagnato C, Melendez-Calderon A, Jarrasse N, Ganesh G and Burdet E (2023)

IEEE Trans on Haptics (in press)


Physical interaction can enhance motor learning, but it remains unclear what type of interaction is best suited to increasing the active effort put into a task, which should support learning. Here, we used the same interactive tracking task with different instructions to induce three training conditions: competition, collaboration, and self-improvement, where partners improve their own performance while interacting haptically with each other. The effort was gauged by measuring the total normalized muscle activity. Feedback of task performance and the haptic dynamics were identical in all three training conditions, so the effort needed to complete the task was the same. Only the instructions to ‘compete with the partner’, ‘improve your and your partner's accuracy’ and ‘improve your accuracy’ were different among the competition, collaboration, and self-improvement conditions, respectively. Despite having the same goal of maximizing self-performance during competition and self-improvement, participants exerted significantly more effort during competition, and their tracking accuracy was highest during competitive practice. Least effort was put into collaboration but tracking accuracy during collaboration was comparable to self-improvement. Our results suggest that interactive haptic competition can induce higher active drive or effort than either collaborative training or self-focused practice.

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