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Infants' preference for individual agents within chasing interactions
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2016 (English)In: Journal of experimental child psychology (Print), ISSN 0022-0965, E-ISSN 1096-0457, Vol. 147, 53-70 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Resource type
Text
Abstract [en]

Infants, like adults, are able to discriminate between chasing and non-chasing interactions when watching animations with simple geometric shapes. But where infants derive the necessary information for discrimination and how chasing detection influences later visual attention has been previously unexplored. Here, using eye tracking, we investigated how 5- and 12-month-old infants (N = 94) distribute their visual attention among individual members within different interactions depending on a type of interaction. Infant gaze was examined when observing animations depicting chasing and following interactions compared with animations displaying randomly moving shapes. Results demonstrate that when observing chasing and following interactions, all infants strongly preferred to attend to the agent that initiates an interaction and trails behind another. Low-level features, such as changes in agent-specific velocity profiles, could not account for this preference (Study 2). Rather, the strong preference for the agent going behind seems to be dependent on the initial goal-directed or "heat-seeking" motion of one agent toward another (Study 3). The current set of experiments suggests that, similar to adults, 5 months-olds' visual attention depends on the motion features of an individual agent within the interaction and is fine-tuned to agents that display goal-directed motion toward other agents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 147, 53-70 p.
Keyword [en]
Visual attention, Social interactions, Social perception, Infant, Eye tracking, Chasing
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-298836DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2016.02.010ISI: 000376698100004PubMedID: 27017143OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-298836DiVA: diva2:948369
Funder
Swedish Research Council, VR-2011-1528
Available from: 2016-07-11 Created: 2016-07-11 Last updated: 2017-05-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social causality in motion: Visual bias and categorization of social interactions during the observation of chasing in infancy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social causality in motion: Visual bias and categorization of social interactions during the observation of chasing in infancy
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic) [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

Since the seminal work of Fritz Heider and Marienne Simmel (1944) the study of animacy perception, or the perception and attribution of life from the motion of simple geometrical shapes has intrigued researchers. The intrigue for psychologists and vision scientists then and today centered on the stark disconnect between the simplicity of the visual input and the universal richness of the resulting percept.

Infant research in this domain has become critical in examining the ontological processes behind the formation of animated percepts. To date, little is known about how infants process these kinds of stimuli. While numerous habituation studies have shown sensitivity to animate motion in general, none to date has examined whether infants actually perceive animate displays as social interactions.

The overarching goal of the present thesis is to answer this question and further augment knowledge about the mechanisms behind the formation of animated percepts in infancy. I, along with my collaborators, do so in three ways, in three separate studies. First, we examined visual attention during online observation of randomly moving geometrical shapes in adults and infants (Study I, using eye tracking). Second, we examine distribution of visual attention in infancy during online observation of non-contact causal interactions, focusing on the most ubiquitous, fitness relevant of interactions – chasing (Study II, using eye tracking). Third, we answer the question whether infants perceive social content in chasing displays by measuring the neural correlates in response to chasing (Study III, using EEG).

The collective contribution of the present work is also three fold. First, it demonstrates that starting at the end of the first year of life, human visual system is sensitive to cues that efficiently predict an interaction. Second, at 5-months infants begins allocating attention differently across agents within interactions. Finally, attention to specific objects is not due to low-level saliency but the social nature of the interaction. Subsequently, I present the case that perception of social agents is fast, direct, and reflects the workings of a specialized learning mechanisms whose function is the detection of heat-seeking animates in motion. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2017. 101 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 144
Keyword
social causality, motion, animacy perception, chasing goal-directed motion, heat-seeking, EEG; P400, Nc, spatial proximity, non-contact causality, functional specialization, specialized perception, evolution
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-321904 (URN)978-91-554-9943-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-08-31, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-06-07 Created: 2017-05-12 Last updated: 2017-09-20

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