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Morgan A Saxon, Brandon J Thomas, Jeanine K Stefanucci, Sarah H Creem-Regehr; Does Avatar Presence Facilitate Affordance Judgments from Different Perspectives?. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):221c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.221c.
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Previous research shows individuals are accurate at judging their own affordances as well as the affordances of others. In the current study, we used immersive virtual reality to investigate individuals’ abilities to judge affordances from a perspective other than their own. In addition, we tested whether the presence of a human avatar facilitated participants’ abilities to make those judgments. Within a virtual room, participants (N = 45) sat at a table and judged whether a ball was reachable from their own perspective (block 1) or another perspective (blocks 2 and 3, counterbalanced). To reliably evoke perspective-taking, we asked participants to make a judgment of whether the ball was reachable with either the right or left hand or not reachable with either hand. We varied ball distance and angle in all blocks. In blocks 2 and 3, either a chair or a chair with an avatar present also appeared at various angles (90°, 120°, 150°, 180°, 210°, 250°, 270°) around the table. We asked participants to imagine they were sitting at the position of the chair or the avatar at its current position to make the reaching affordance judgment. Results showed an effect for avatar presence, with participants responding faster when the avatar was present compared to when the chair was empty. We also found different reaction patterns as a function of degree of rotation, when the avatar was present versus absent. With the avatar, reaction times increased as angle of disparity from the viewer’s location increased. Without the avatar, there was not as clear a response time function, with increased response time at 90 and 270 degree rotations. The results suggest that perspective-taking to judge reach affordances from a new viewpoint is facilitated by the presence of an avatar.
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