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Perceived physical and social causality in animated motions: Spontaneous reports and ratings

Schlottmann, A; Ray, ED; Mitchell, A; Demetriou, N; (2006) Perceived physical and social causality in animated motions: Spontaneous reports and ratings. ACTA PSYCHOL , 123 (1-2) 112 - 143. 10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.05.006.

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Abstract

Michotte argued that we perceive cause-and-effect, without contributions from reasoning or learning, even in displays of two-dimensional moving shapes. Two studies extend this line of work from perception of mechanical to social causality. We compared verbal reports with structured ratings of causality to gain a better understanding of the extent to which perceptual causality occurs spontaneously or depends on instruction or context. A total of 120 adult observers (72 in the main experiment, 48 in an initial experiment) saw 12 (or 8) different computer animations of shape A moving up to B, which in turn moved away. Animations factorially varied the temporal and spatial relations of the shapes, and whether they moved rigidly or in a non-rigid, animal-like manner. Impressions of social as well as physical causality appeared in both free reports and ratings. Perception of physical causality was stronger than perception of social causality, particularly in free reports. No differences of this nature appear in infants and children, so the asymmetry may reflect learnt knowledge. Physical causality was relatively unspecific initially, but discrimination of causal and delayed control events improved with exposure to multiple events. Experience seems to affect the causal illusion even over a short timeframe; the idea of 'one-trial causality' may be somewhat misleading. Regardless of such effects on the absolute level of responses, the different measures showed similar patterns of variation with the spatio-temporal configuration and type of motion. The good fit of ratings and reports validates much recent work in this area. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Type:Article
Title:Perceived physical and social causality in animated motions: Spontaneous reports and ratings
DOI:10.1016/j.actpsy.2006.05.006
Keywords:perceptual causality, mechanical causality, social causality, animacy, launch event, reaction event, PERCEPTUAL CAUSALITY, REPRESENTATIONAL MOMENTUM, PHENOMENAL CAUSALITY, INFANTS, BRAIN, CAUSATION, EVENT, MECHANISMS, CONTINUITY, DISTANCE
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > Developmental Science
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences

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