Testing the animate monitoring hypothesis / Mitchell LaPointe

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LaPointe, Mitchell
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, c2010
The detection of human and non-human animals and their unique (and potentially dangerous) “animation” would have been important to our ancestors’ survival. It would seem plausible that our ancestors would have required a vigilance above and beyond that dedicated to other, inanimate, objects. Considering the millions of years of expending extra energy to monitor these objects, it would also seem likely, at least as advocated by New, Cosmides, and Tooby (2007), that the human visual system would have developed mechanisms to allocate attention automatically and quickly to these objects. We tested the New et al. (2007) “animate monitoring” hypothesis by presenting viewers with a group of animate objects and a group of inanimate objects using the flicker task—a task that is assumed to be one that measures automatic visual attention. These objects were presented on a variety of backgrounds of natural scenes, including some backgrounds that were contextually inconsistent with the target objects. These objects were also presented in either a consistent location within each scene or a location that violated that consistency. Only people objects were consistently more readily detected, not animated objects in general. Detection in this task was affected by more than just the information provided by the target object. Both results provide a serious challenge to the “animate monitoring” hypothesis. Furthermore, the results were shown not to be due to peculiarities of our stimulus set, or by how interesting the members of each object category were. iv
xii, 108 leaves ; 29 cm
Visual perception , Attention , Dissertations, Academic