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Visual perspective-taking and image-like representations: We don't see it

Samuel, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7776-7427, Hagspiel, K., Eacott, M. J. & Cole, G. G. (2021). Visual perspective-taking and image-like representations: We don't see it. Cognition, 210, 104607. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104607


The ability to represent another agent's visual perspective has recently been attributed to a process called “perceptual simulation”, whereby we generate an image-like or “quasi-perceptual” representation of another agent's vision. In an extensive series of experiments we tested this notion. Adult observers were presented with pictures of an agent looking at two horizontal lines, one of which was closer to the agent and hence appeared longer from his/her visual perspective. In each case approximately as many participants judged the closer line to appear shorter as longer (to the agent), i.e., failures to take the agent's perspective. This occurred when clear depth cues were added to emphasise the agent's location relative to the stimuli, when the agent was moved closer to the lines, when the lines were oriented vertically, when judgments could be made while viewing the image, and when participants imagined themselves in the agent's place. It also persisted when we asked participants to imagine what a photo taken from the same location as the agent would show, ruling out a misinterpretation of the instructions. Overall, our data suggest that adults attempt to solve visual perspective-taking problems by drawing upon naïve and often erroneous ideas about how vision works.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Perspective-taking, Vision, Theory of mind, Perceptual simulation, Naïve optics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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