August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Psychosocial Resources Affect Biological Motion Perception
Author Affiliations
  • Jamie Gorman
    Department of Psychology, Rutgers University at Newark
  • Kent Harber
    Department of Psychology, Rutgers University at Newark
  • Maggie Shiffrar
    Department of Psychology, Rutgers University at Newark
  • Karen Quigley
    Department of Psychology, Northeastern University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 468. doi:
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      Jamie Gorman, Kent Harber, Maggie Shiffrar, Karen Quigley; Psychosocial Resources Affect Biological Motion Perception. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):468. doi:

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

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Observer characteristics can alter perception. For example, the Resources and Perception Model (RPM; Harber et al., 2008) asserts that psychosocial resources, including social support and self-esteem, can attenuate responses to threat and enable more accurate perception. Supporting research indicates that an observer’s psychosocial resources can reduce the perceived steepness of hills (Schnall et al., 2008) and the perceived distance to threatening objects (Harber et al.., 2011). It is unknown whether psychosocial resources influence perception of biological motion. Two studies examined how depleted psychosocial resources influence the detection and analysis of emotional point-light walkers (PLWs). In both studies, participants’ psychosocial resources were either lowered or left unchanged by engaging in an online game of catch (Cyberball, Williams & Jarvis, 2006). Participants in the ostracized condition were largely excluded from the game, whereas control participants were included throughout the four-minute manipulation. In study 1, 60 naïve participants (65% female) viewed 3 second masked point-light displays containing either a coherent or a scrambled walker that expressed anger, happiness, or a neutral emotional state (Chouchourelou et al., 2006) and reported whether a coherent walker was present in each display. Detection sensitivity and response bias were assessed. Ostracized participants had reduced detection sensitivity, but only if they lacked social support and self-confidence. In study 2, 63 new participants (75% female) viewed masked point-light walkers (stimulus duration = 3000ms) and identified the depicted emotion. Reaction time and accuracy were recorded. Social support and ostracism interactively influenced accuracy at identifying emotion. Ostracized participants were less accurate at identifying emotion, but only if they lacked social support. These results indicate that psychosocial resources are important for accurate biological motion perception and further suggest that trait resources can attenuate social threat from ostracism to enable accurate perception.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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