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The direct perception hypothesis: perceiving the intention of another's action hinders its precise imitation.

Froese T, Leavens DA - Front Psychol (2014)

Bottom Line: Various strands of evidence are converging on this conclusion, but further progress has been hampered by an outdated theory of perceptual experience.However, a growing consensus in social cognition research accepts the direct perception hypothesis: primarily we see what others aim to do; we do not infer it from their motions.The direct perception hypothesis thereby helps to parsimoniously explain the most important findings of imitation research, including children's over-imitation and other species-typical and age-related variations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación, Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico ; Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico.

ABSTRACT
We argue that imitation is a learning response to unintelligible actions, especially to social conventions. Various strands of evidence are converging on this conclusion, but further progress has been hampered by an outdated theory of perceptual experience. Comparative psychology continues to be premised on the doctrine that humans and non-human primates only perceive others' physical "surface behavior," while mental states are perceptually inaccessible. However, a growing consensus in social cognition research accepts the direct perception hypothesis: primarily we see what others aim to do; we do not infer it from their motions. Indeed, physical details are overlooked - unless the action is unintelligible. On this basis we hypothesize that apes' propensity to copy the goal of an action, rather than its precise means, is largely dependent on its perceived intelligibility. Conversely, children copy means more often than adults and apes because, uniquely, much adult human behavior is completely unintelligible to unenculturated observers due to the pervasiveness of arbitrary social conventions, as exemplified by customs, rituals, and languages. We expect the propensity to imitate to be inversely correlated with the familiarity of cultural practices, as indexed by age and/or socio-cultural competence. The direct perception hypothesis thereby helps to parsimoniously explain the most important findings of imitation research, including children's over-imitation and other species-typical and age-related variations.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

The “Thatcher illusion ” (Thompson, 1980). We first see two more-or-less identical faces. However, when they are turned around 180° to their proper orientation, it turns out that one face had been manipulated. These abnormal physical details had previously been perceptually obscured behind the meaningful experience of seeing a replication of the left-hand image. (This figure was first published in Thompson, P. “Margaret Thatcher: a new illusion” Perception, 1980, 9, pp. 483–484, reproduced by kind permission of Pion Ltd, London. Website: http://www.perceptionweb.com).
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Figure 1: The “Thatcher illusion ” (Thompson, 1980). We first see two more-or-less identical faces. However, when they are turned around 180° to their proper orientation, it turns out that one face had been manipulated. These abnormal physical details had previously been perceptually obscured behind the meaningful experience of seeing a replication of the left-hand image. (This figure was first published in Thompson, P. “Margaret Thatcher: a new illusion” Perception, 1980, 9, pp. 483–484, reproduced by kind permission of Pion Ltd, London. Website: http://www.perceptionweb.com).

Mentions: Since it may be difficult to intuitively grasp what it means to fail to notice physical details when perceiving another’s body, the reader is encouraged to experience this effect from her own first-person perspective. We therefore reproduce the “Thatcher illusion” (Thompson, 1980), which is particularly relevant for generalizing these kinds of findings to comparative psychology, because it has been demonstrated to apply to the perception of non-human primates as well, including chimpanzees and, to a lesser extent, monkeys (Nakata and Osada, 2012; Weldon et al., 2013). The perceiver sees two seemingly similar pictures of a smiling face when these pictures are positioned upside down, but not when they are turned to their upright position (Figure 1).


The direct perception hypothesis: perceiving the intention of another's action hinders its precise imitation.

Froese T, Leavens DA - Front Psychol (2014)

The “Thatcher illusion ” (Thompson, 1980). We first see two more-or-less identical faces. However, when they are turned around 180° to their proper orientation, it turns out that one face had been manipulated. These abnormal physical details had previously been perceptually obscured behind the meaningful experience of seeing a replication of the left-hand image. (This figure was first published in Thompson, P. “Margaret Thatcher: a new illusion” Perception, 1980, 9, pp. 483–484, reproduced by kind permission of Pion Ltd, London. Website: http://www.perceptionweb.com).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3927096&req=5

Figure 1: The “Thatcher illusion ” (Thompson, 1980). We first see two more-or-less identical faces. However, when they are turned around 180° to their proper orientation, it turns out that one face had been manipulated. These abnormal physical details had previously been perceptually obscured behind the meaningful experience of seeing a replication of the left-hand image. (This figure was first published in Thompson, P. “Margaret Thatcher: a new illusion” Perception, 1980, 9, pp. 483–484, reproduced by kind permission of Pion Ltd, London. Website: http://www.perceptionweb.com).
Mentions: Since it may be difficult to intuitively grasp what it means to fail to notice physical details when perceiving another’s body, the reader is encouraged to experience this effect from her own first-person perspective. We therefore reproduce the “Thatcher illusion” (Thompson, 1980), which is particularly relevant for generalizing these kinds of findings to comparative psychology, because it has been demonstrated to apply to the perception of non-human primates as well, including chimpanzees and, to a lesser extent, monkeys (Nakata and Osada, 2012; Weldon et al., 2013). The perceiver sees two seemingly similar pictures of a smiling face when these pictures are positioned upside down, but not when they are turned to their upright position (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: Various strands of evidence are converging on this conclusion, but further progress has been hampered by an outdated theory of perceptual experience.However, a growing consensus in social cognition research accepts the direct perception hypothesis: primarily we see what others aim to do; we do not infer it from their motions.The direct perception hypothesis thereby helps to parsimoniously explain the most important findings of imitation research, including children's over-imitation and other species-typical and age-related variations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación, Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico ; Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico City, Mexico.

ABSTRACT
We argue that imitation is a learning response to unintelligible actions, especially to social conventions. Various strands of evidence are converging on this conclusion, but further progress has been hampered by an outdated theory of perceptual experience. Comparative psychology continues to be premised on the doctrine that humans and non-human primates only perceive others' physical "surface behavior," while mental states are perceptually inaccessible. However, a growing consensus in social cognition research accepts the direct perception hypothesis: primarily we see what others aim to do; we do not infer it from their motions. Indeed, physical details are overlooked - unless the action is unintelligible. On this basis we hypothesize that apes' propensity to copy the goal of an action, rather than its precise means, is largely dependent on its perceived intelligibility. Conversely, children copy means more often than adults and apes because, uniquely, much adult human behavior is completely unintelligible to unenculturated observers due to the pervasiveness of arbitrary social conventions, as exemplified by customs, rituals, and languages. We expect the propensity to imitate to be inversely correlated with the familiarity of cultural practices, as indexed by age and/or socio-cultural competence. The direct perception hypothesis thereby helps to parsimoniously explain the most important findings of imitation research, including children's over-imitation and other species-typical and age-related variations.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus