December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Visual event boundaries promote cognitive reflection over gut intuitions
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joan Danielle K. Ongchoco
    Yale University
  • Robert Walter-Terrill
    Yale University
  • Brian Scholl
    Yale University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This project was funded by ONR MURI #N00014-16-1-2007 awarded to BJS, and by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awarded to RWT.
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3305. doi:
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      Joan Danielle K. Ongchoco, Robert Walter-Terrill, Brian Scholl; Visual event boundaries promote cognitive reflection over gut intuitions. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3305.

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

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There are often two ways to make decisions: you can go with your (fast, automatic) gut intuition, or you can engage in (slow, effortful) deliberation. This contrast is especially salient in tests of “cognitive reflection” — in which these two routes typically lead to different answers. (“If you’re running a race and you pass the person in second place, what place are you in?” The immediate intuitive answer is “first place”, but the reflective correct answer is “second place”.) What determines whether people will engage in cognitive reflection? It doesn’t intuitively seem like the answers to this question would have anything to do with vision science — since, after all, seeing seems to be among the least “reflective” processes in our minds, being neither slow nor deliberative. Here we show how a simple visual manipulation can nevertheless have a surprisingly powerful effect on cognitive reflection. Subjects viewed an immersive 3D virtual animation in which they walked down a long room. During their walk, some subjects saw a visual event boundary (by passing through a doorway), while others did not — equating paths, speeds, distances, and overall room layouts. At the end of their walk, subjects then answered a question from a “cognitive reflection test”. The results were clear and striking: across multiple questions and experiments (and direct replications), the visual event boundaries led to far more reflective (and thus correct) responses. These results suggest a novel connection between perception and thought: the prevalence of intuition vs. reflection may wax and wane over time, with reflection prioritized immediately after event boundaries — when intuitions based on previous events may have just become obsolete. Such shifts in higher-level thought may be directly driven by subtle image cues which lead to temporal segmentation and new event representations in visual processing.


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