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Katie Jones, Melina Kunar, Derrick Watson; Perceptual salience of self-relevant information in shared environments. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1288. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1288.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Attributing personal significance to otherwise neutral stimuli has been demonstrated to modulate perceptual processing (Sui, He & Humphreys, 2012). In shared environments it is particularly pertinent that individuals can identify and prioritize self-relevant information over information relevant to others. However, studies of joint-task performance have suggested that co-actors automatically form cognitive representations of each other's task rules, resulting in task interference. To determine if participants are able to successfully prioritize self-relevant information in shared tasks we asked pairs of co-actors to perform a joint perceptual matching task when they were seated side-by-side. Each participant associated three geometric shapes with either the self, the co-actor, or an imagined stranger. In Experiment 1 both participants were assigned the same shape-label associations (e.g. self-triangle, partner-circle, stranger-square). In Experiment 2 participants were assigned different shape-label pairings for self and partner associations (e.g. Participant A: self-triangle, partner-circle, stranger-square; Participant B: self-circle, partner-triangle stranger-square). Participants then judged independently whether presented shape-label pairings were correctly matched. No difference was found between the experiments, ruling out interference relating to task co-representation. The data revealed a reliable self-benefit, both in terms of response times and perceptual sensitivity. Interestingly, participants were slower to identify an incorrect match when the self-associated shape was paired with the label 'partner' than when paired with the label 'stranger'. This finding indicates that there may be a conceptual overlap between representations of the self and a co-actor, resulting in a difficulty in exerting self-other control when both representations are activated. Our study shows that while people in shared tasks demonstrate a reliable perceptual bias for self-relevant information, they also experience greater difficulty discriminating between self- and other- relevant information when the 'other' is a present co-actor.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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