Use of Complementary Actions Decreases with Expertise


Based on data collected during play of the fast-paced video game of Tetris, it has long been claimed that complementary (or epistemic) actions increase with expertise (Kirsh, 1995; Kirsh & Maglio, 1994; Maglio & Kirsh, 1996). Complementary actions use the environment to provide information that would otherwise require mental processing. They stand in contrast to pragmatic actions, which operate to bring the current state closer to the goal state. Although complementary actions undoubtedly exist, we question the conclusion that they increase with expertise. First, classifying actions made in a fast-paced video game can be very difficult. Second, the range of expertise considered in prior studies has been very small. We sample a wide range of Tetris expertise and define complementary actions across multiple criterion of varying strictness. Contrary to prior work, our data suggest that complementary actions decrease with expertise, regardless of the criterion used.

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