Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Perceiving Action Boundaries: Learning Effects in Perceiving Maximum Jumping-Reach Affordances

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Perceiving Action Boundaries: Learning Effects in Perceiving Maximum Jumping-Reach Affordances

Article excerpt

Coordinating with another person requires that one can perceive what the other is capable of doing. This ability often benefits from opportunities to practice and learn. Two experiments were conducted in which we investigated perceptual learning in the context of perceiving the maximum height to which an actor could jump to reach an object. Those estimates were compared with estimates that perceivers made for themselves. In Experiment 1, participants initially underestimated the maximum jumping-reach height both for themselves and for the actor. Over time, without explicit feedback, the participants were able to improve estimates of their own maximum jumping-reach height, but estimates for the actor did not improve. In Experiment 2, participants observed the actor perform either an action related but nonidentical to jumping (lifting a weight by squatting) or a nonrelated activity (rotating the torso). The participants who observed the actor perform the related action were able to improve the accuracy of their perceptual reports for the actor's maximum jumping-reach height, but the participants who watched the actor perform the nonrelated task were unable to do so. The results indicate some degree of independence between perceived affordances for the self and others, suggesting that affordance judgments are not entirely dependent on or determined by characteristics of the perceiver.

Most human behavior takes place within a social environment. Social coordination of behavior can be achieved by selecting and controlling one's actions with regard to what other actors are doing, are about to do, or are potentially capable of doing. For example, if an actor knows that a companion cannot lift a heavy object, the actor knows to provide assistance and, furthermore, can determine how much lifting force he or she must contribute so that the pair can lift the object together. Such instances of social coordination often depend critically on each actor's ability to perceive and anticipate the actions of others. The same is true when an agent's goal is to merely observe the behaviors of another agent, rather than to actively coordinate with the other agent, such as when a caregiver minds a child who is playing alone.

One perspective on social perception-action emphasizes the role of embodied simulation processes (motor resonance in the mirror neuron system) that are hypothesized to enable observers to interpret and predict others' actions via the observers' own neural systems for movement (e.g., Gallese, 2005; see also Sebanz, Bekkering, & Knoblich, 2006). A second perspective emphasizes the ability to perceive affordances (opportunities for action; J. J. Gibson, 1979) for other actors (Ramenzoni, Riley, Shockley, & Davis, 2008b; see also Fischer, 2003; Lamm, Fischer, & Decety, 2007). Although motivated by different theoretical assumptions, these two perspectives are not exclusive, and they may reflect complementary aspects of social perception-action (Knoblich & Sebanz, 2008). As was noted by Ramenzoni et al. (2008b), simulations cannot be absolutely indeterminate or agent neutral (Pacherie & Dokic, 2006; cf. Gallese, 2005) or observers would usually fare rather poorly at predicting or understanding actions that require a tight metrical fit between another agent and the environment. Any cognitive processes related to predicting or understanding the actions of an agent thus need to have access to situated, context-sensitive information about the agent's action capabilities in a given environmental setting (i.e., what behaviors are afforded that agent by the environment). By this view, broad theoretical progress in social perception-action may depend on developing a more thorough understanding of social affordances.

Accordingly, in the present work, we did not measure or manipulate motor resonance in the mirror neuron system or any other neural processes believed to be directly involved in embodied simulation, but instead, we focused on some unresolved issues regarding the perception of affordances for others. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.