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Tobiasz Trawinski, Natalie Mestry, Beth Harland, Nick Donnelly; Stimulus and Cognitive Factors Influence the Spectatorship of Portraits. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):234. doi: 10.1167/18.10.234.
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Portraits are a specific type of painting motif defined by the central focus of an individual or group (sitter(s)) in a painting. Studies of the spectatorship of portraits are often limited to considering the role of gaze in determining viewing (e.g. Tyler, 1998). Portraits are to be viewed in their totality, so we examine what other factors influence the spectatorship of portraits. We explored how sitter gaze influences spectatorship and how the presence of faces, bodies and other salient regions influence eye movements made during the viewing of portraits. These data are also considered with respect to individual differences in attention (Attention Network Test; Fan et al., 2002) and both verbal and spatial working memory (3-back task; Shackman et al., 2006). Participants with no specific art knowledge had their eye movements recorded whilst rating their liking of a set of 142 portraits on a 4-point Likert scale. The paintings were categorised as the primary sitter having focused or ambiguous gaze (using a separate rating study) and portraits as having salient regions in the context of the primary sitter or not (Itti & Koch, 2001). Regions of interest for the eye movement analysis were defined terms of faces, bodies or context. Results showed participants prioritised faces during the rating task, with increased number and duration of fixations compared with the bodies and context. Fixations became more concentrated on faces when gaze of the sitter was focussed and salient features were present in the background. The numbers of fixations made to the body were lower than to the face but higher than to the context. The tendency to fixate bodies was reduced in those with high spatial working memory capacity. The results are discussed in terms of a model that emphasises how stimulus and cognitive factors influence the spectatorship of portraits.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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