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Linking arbitrary shapes (e.g., circles, squares, and triangles) to personal labels (e.g., self, friend, or stranger) or reward values (e.g., £18, £6, or £2) results in immediate processing benefits for those stimuli that happen to be associated with the self or high rewards in perceptual matching tasks. Here we further explored how social and reward associations interact with multisensory stimuli by pairing labels and objects with tones (low, medium, and high tones). We also investigated whether self and reward biases persist for multisensory stimuli with the label removed after an association had been made. Both high reward stimuli and those associated with the self, resulted in faster responses and improved discriminability (i.e., higher d'), which persisted for multisensory stimuli even when the labels were removed. However, these self- and reward-biases partly depended on the specific alignment between the physical tones (low, medium, and high) and the conceptual (social or reward) order. Performance for reward associations improved when the endpoints of low or high rewards were paired with low or high tones; meanwhile, for personal associations, there was a benefit when the self was paired with either low or high tones, but there was no effect when the stranger was associated with either endpoint. These results indicate that, unlike reward, social personal associations are not represented along a continuum with two marked endpoints (i.e., self and stranger) but rather with a single reference point (the self vs. other).

Original publication




Journal article


Front Psychol

Publication Date





multisensory, order effect, reward, self bias, shape matching