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Shannon E. Morgan, Michael K. McBeath; What's the point? Determining the group's center-of-attention. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):220. doi: 10.1167/4.8.220.
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This study explores the ability of observers to judge location of group center-of-attention (COA) when observing only biological motion cues from displays using point light people (PLP). We also examined the effect of the number of PLPs in the display on accuracy of COA judgments. Attention is typically evaluated by isolating specific cues such as the eye gaze of one person, while this study adds biological motion as another source of information specifying COA. In the current study, observers' ability to judge the group's center of attention is assessed using groups of 1, 2 and 3 individuals. PLPs walked approximately 2 to 6 steps, in a straight path, toward a specific target located on the floor. The COA and corresponding head orientations were either consistent or inconsistent with the direction they were walking. Results support that observers can judge COA reasonably accurately using only the motion information available from moving PLP, but is systematically biased by PLP walking direction. We also found that increasing the number of PLP did not improve accuracy of observers COA judgments. Through the use of biological motion, some of the more prominent features that enable viewers to discern the direction of attention may be amplified. The findings suggest that increased information increases the complexity of the scene thereby making it more difficult to ascertain the critical information necessary to determine the group's center-of-attention.
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