Nice Guys Finish Fast and Bad Guys Finish Last: Facilitatory vs. Inhibitory Interaction in Parallel Systems

Ami Eidels
Joseph W. Houpt, Wright State University - Main Campus
Nicholas Altieri
Lei Pei
James T. Townsend


Systems Factorial Technology is a powerful framework for investigating the fundamental properties of human information processing such as architecture (i.e., serial or parallel processing) and capacity (how processing efficiency is affected by increased workload). The Survivor Interaction Contrast (SIC) and the Capacity Coefficient are effective measures in determining these underlying properties, based on response-time data. Each of the different architectures, under the assumption of independent processing, predicts a specific form of the SIC along with some range of capacity. In this study, we explored SIC predictions of discrete-state (Markov process) and continuous-state (Linear Dynamic) models that allow for certain types of cross-channel interaction. The interaction can be facilitatory or inhibitory: one channel can either facilitate, or slow down processing in its counterpart. Despite the relative generality of these models, the combination of the architecture oriented plus the capacity oriented analyses provide for precise identification of the underlying system.