August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Timmy, Lassie, Clyde, Daffy, Hedwig, and Polly: Joint attention effects between human and nonhuman animals
Author Affiliations
  • Anna McPhee
    Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto
  • Joseph Manzone
    School of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario
  • Timothy Welsh
    Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1003. doi:10.1167/16.12.1003
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      Anna McPhee, Joseph Manzone, Timothy Welsh; Timmy, Lassie, Clyde, Daffy, Hedwig, and Polly: Joint attention effects between human and nonhuman animals. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1003. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1003.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

One non-verbal communication cue that facilitates social interaction is the direction of gaze because it provides a signal regarding another individual's location of interest and attention. Knowing what another individual is attending to allows the observer to reorient their attention to that stimulus so that both individuals are attending to the same stimulus – a phenomenon known as joint attention. Although joint attention has been extensively studied in human-human context, research on human-nonhuman animal interactions is scarce. The present experiments were conducted to examine joint attention between humans and nonhuman animals by investigating whether or not the visual gaze of nonhuman animals can shift a human's attention. Participants completed a simple localization task via a button press response after detecting a target that appeared in a left or right placeholder. Prior to target onset, participants were presented with the head of an animal or human that suddenly changed orientation from a direct (towards the participant) to an averted gaze (towards left or rightward placeholders). Targets were presented randomly in either placeholder location 100, 300, 600, or 1000 ms after the head rotated. The heads were of mammals (human, orangutan, dog) in Experiment 1 or of birds (owl, duck, parrot) in Experiment 2. The analysis of response times (RTs) revealed joint attention effects - RTs were shorter for cued (gazed at) than uncued (not gazed at) locations. Interestingly, although the cuing effects peaked at 300 ms for all animals, cuing effects were still significant at 600 and 1000 ms for the mammals but were not significant for the birds at these times. Thus, the data suggest that humans can engage in joint attention with nonhuman animals, but that these effects might not be as strong or resilient for birds as for mammals.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016

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