Age of avatar modulates the altercentric bias in a visual perspective-taking task: ERP and behavioral evidence

Heather J. Ferguson (Lead / Corresponding author), Victoria E.A. Brunsdon, Lizzie Bradford

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Abstract

Despite being able to rapidly and accurately infer their own and other peoples’ visual perspectives, healthy adults experience difficulty ignoring the irrelevant perspective when the two perspectives are in conflict; they experience egocentric and altercentric interference. We examine for the first time how the age of an observed person (adult vs. child avatar) influences adults’ visual perspective-taking, particularly the degree to which they experience interference from their own or the other person’s perspective. Participants completed the avatar visual perspective-taking task, in which they verified the number of discs in a visual scene according to either their own or an on-screen avatar’s perspective (Experiments 1 and 2) or only from their own perspective (Experiment 3), where the two perspectives could be consistent or in conflict. Age of avatar was manipulated between (Experiment 1) or within (Experiments 2 and 3) participants, and interference was assessed using behavioral (Experiments 1–3) and ERP (Experiment 1) measures. Results revealed that altercentric interference is reduced or eliminated when a child avatar was present, suggesting that adults do not automatically compute a child avatar’s perspective. We attribute this pattern to either enhanced visual processing for own-age others or an inference on reduced mental awareness in younger children. The findings argue against a purely attentional basis for the altercentric effect, and instead support an account where both mentalising and directional processes modulate automatic visual perspective-taking, and perspective-taking effects are strongly influenced by experimental context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1298-1319
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Theory of Mind
  • Visual perspective-taking
  • Altercentric interference
  • Self/other
  • ERPs

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