Laterality judgments about the left or right hand of a schematic human figure, made from the perspective of the figure, are faster and more accurate when the figure is presented in back-facing view as compared to front-facing view. Mental perspective transformation accounts of this finding have recently been challenged on grounds of a confounding of facing direction with spatial stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility (Gardner and Potts in Acta Psychol 137: 371-381, 2011). We report two experiments that introduced stimulus figures in an orientation that was neutral in terms of spatial S-R compatibility. Results revealed a stable back-facing advantage that cannot be explained by compatibility conflicts. Comparisons of these neutral stimuli and conditions with figures presented in upright or upside-down orientation, however, confirmed a substantial impact of spatial S-R compatibility in the latter conditions. The present experiments show that it is possible to distinguish between mental transformation and incompatibility costs allowing future work to focus on the specialized mental spatial transformation processes.