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    Why are social interactions found quickly in visual search tasks?

    Vestner, Tim and Gray, Katie and Cook, Richard (2020) Why are social interactions found quickly in visual search tasks? Cognition 200 , p. 104270. ISSN 0010-0277.

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    When asked to find a target dyad amongst non-interacting individuals, participants respond faster when the individuals in the target dyad are shown face-to-face (suggestive of a social interaction), than when they are presented back-to-back. Face-to-face dyads may be found faster because social interactions recruit specialized processing. However, human faces and bodies are salient directional cues that exert a strong influence on how observers distribute their attention. Here we report that a similar search advantage exists for ‘point-to-point’ and ‘point-to-face’ target arrangements constructed using arrows – a non-social directional cue. These findings indicate that the search advantage seen for face-to-face dyads is a product of the directional cues present within arrangements, not the fact that they are processed as social interactions, per se. One possibility is that, when arranged in the face-to-face or point-to-point configuration, pairs of directional cues (faces, bodies, arrows) create an attentional ‘hot-spot’ – a region of space in between the elements to which attention is directed by multiple cues. Due to the presence of this hot-spot, observers' attention may be drawn to the target location earlier in a serial visual search.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Social interaction, Visual search, Direction cues, Social attention, Arrows
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Richard Cook
    Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2020 09:14
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:59


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