Understanding of visual attention by adult humans (Homo sapiens): a partial replication of Povinelli, Bierschwale, and Cech (1999).

Thomas, Emily, Murphy, Mary, Pitt, Rebecca, Rivers, Angela and Leavens, David (2008) Understanding of visual attention by adult humans (Homo sapiens): a partial replication of Povinelli, Bierschwale, and Cech (1999). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 122 (4). pp. 428-436. ISSN 0735-7036

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Abstract

Povinelli, Bierschwale, and Cech (1999) reported that when tested on a visual attention task, the behavior of juvenile chimpanzees did not support a high-level understanding of visual attention. This study replicates their research using adult humans and aims to investigate the validity of their experimental design. Participants were trained to respond to pointing cues given by an experimenter, and then tested on their ability to locate hidden objects from visual cues. Povinelli et al.'s assertion that the generalization of pointing to gaze is indicative of a high-level framework was not supported by our findings: Training improved performance only on initial probe trials when the experimenter's gaze was not directed at the baited cup. Furthermore, participants performed above chance on such trials, the same result exhibited by chimpanzees and used as evidence by Povinelli et al. to support a low-level framework. These findings, together with the high performance of participants in an incongruent condition, in which the experimenter pointed to or gazed at an unbaited container, challenge the validity of their experimental design.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: David Leavens
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:31
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2012 11:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13050
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