Motion fluency and object preference: robust perceptual but fragile memory effects

Jonathan C. Flavell, Bryony McKean, Steven P. Tipper, Alexander J. Kirkham, Tim Vestner, Harriet Over

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In 8 experiments, we investigated motion fluency effects on object preference. In each experiment, distinct objects were repeatedly seen moving either fluently (with a smooth and predictable motion) or disfluently (with sudden and unpredictable direction changes) in a task where participants were required to respond to occasional brief changes in object appearance. Results show that (a) fluent objects are preferred over disfluent objects when ratings follow a moving presentation, (b) there is some evidence that object-motion associations can be learned with repeated exposures, (c) sufficiently potent motions can yield preference for fluent objects after a single viewing, and (d) learned associations do not transfer to situations where ratings follow a stationary presentation, even after deep levels of encoding. Episodic accounts of memory retrieval predict that emotional states experienced at encoding might be retrieved along with the stimulus properties. Though object-emotion associations were repeatedly paired, there was no evidence for emotional reinstatement when objects were seen stationary. This indicates that the retrieval process is a critical limiting factor when considering visuomotor fluency effects on behavior. Such findings have real-world consequences. For example, a product advertised with high perceptual fluency might be preferred at the time, but this preference might not transfer to seeing the object on a shelf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1582
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Perceptual fluency
  • Preference


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