It has been proposed that humans automatically compute the visual perspective of others. Evidence for this view comes from the Dot Perspective Task. In this task, participants view a room in which a human actor is depicted, looking either leftwards or rightwards. Dots can appear on either the left wall of the room, the right wall, or both. At the start of each trial, participants are shown a number. Their speeded task is to decide whether the number of dots visible matches the number shown. On consistent trials the participant and the actor can see the same number of dots. On inconsistent trials, the participant and the actor can see a different number of dots. Participants respond faster on consistent trials than on inconsistent trials. This self-consistency effect is cited as evidence that participants compute the visual perspective of others automatically, even when it impedes their task performance. According to a rival interpretation, however, this effect is a product of attention cueing: slower responding on inconsistent trials simply reflects the fact that participants' attention is directed away from some or all of the to-be-counted dots. The present study sought to test these rival accounts. We find that desk fans, a class of inanimate object known to cue attention, also produce the self-consistency effect. Moreover, people who are more susceptible to the effect induced by fans tend to be more susceptible to the effect induced by human actors. These findings suggest that the self-consistency effect is a product of attention cueing.
- Reaction Time
- Task Performance and Analysis
- Theory of Mind