Getting the gist of events: Recognition of two-participant actions from brief displays

Alon Hafri, Anna Papafragou, John C. Trueswell
2013 Journal of experimental psychology. General  
Unlike rapid scene and object recognition from brief displays, little is known about recognition of event categories and event roles from minimal visual information. In 3 experiments, we displayed naturalistic photographs of a wide range of 2-participant event scenes for 37 ms and 73 ms followed by a mask, and found that event categories (the event gist; e.g., "kicking," "pushing") and event roles (i.e., Agent and Patient) can be recognized rapidly, even with various actor pairs and
more » ... Norming ratings from a subsequent experiment revealed that certain physical features (e.g., outstretched extremities) that correlate with Agent-hood could have contributed to rapid role recognition. In a final experiment, using identical twin actors, we then varied these features in 2 sets of stimuli, in which Patients had Agent-like features or not. Subjects recognized the roles of event participants less accurately when Patients possessed Agent-like features, with this difference being eliminated with 2-s durations. Thus, given minimal visual input, typical Agent-like physical features are used in role recognition, but with sufficient input from multiple fixations, people categorically determine the relationship between event participants.
doi:10.1037/a0030045 pmid:22984951 pmcid:PMC3657301 fatcat:tqig2uyotzavliap7dvugeukme