Visual search for facing and non-facing people: The effect of actor inversion

Tim Vestner, Katie L H Gray, Richard Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, there has been growing interest in how human observers perceive, attend to, and recall, social interactions viewed from third-person perspectives. One of the interesting findings to emerge from this new literature is the search advantage for facing dyads. When hidden amongst pairs of individuals facing in the same direction, pairs of individuals arranged front-to-front are found faster in visual search tasks than pairs of individuals arranged back-to-back. Interestingly, the search advantage for facing dyads appears to be sensitive to the orientation of the people depicted. While front-to-front target pairs are found faster than back-to-back targets when target and distractor pairings are shown upright, front-to-front and back-to-back targets are found equally quickly when pairings are shown upside-down. In the present study, we sought to better understand why the search advantage for facing dyads is sensitive to the orientation of the people depicted. To begin, we show that the orientation sensitivity of the search advantage is seen with dyads constructed from faces only, and from bodies with the head and face occluded. We replicate these effects using two different visual search paradigms. We go on to show that individual faces and bodies, viewed in profile, produce strong attentional cueing effects when shown upright, but not when presented upside-down. Together with recent evidence that arrows arranged front-to-front also produce the search advantage for facing dyads, these findings support the view that the search advantage is a by-product of the ability of constituent elements to direct observers' visuo-spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104550
JournalCognition
Volume208
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Cues
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Orientation
  • Social Interaction

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