Perceptual teleology:Expectations of action efficiency bias social perception

Hudson, Matthew, McDonough, Katrina L. ORCID:, Edwards, Rhys and Bach, Patric (2018) Perceptual teleology:Expectations of action efficiency bias social perception. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285 (1884). ISSN 0962-8452

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Primates interpret conspecific behaviour as goal-directed and expect others to achieve goals by the most efficient means possible. While this teleological stance is prominent in evolutionary and developmental theories of social cognition, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. In predictive models of social cognition, a perceptual prediction of an ideal efficient trajectory would be generated from prior knowledge against which the observed action is evaluated, distorting the perception of unexpected inefficient actions. To test this, participants observed an actor reach for an object with a straight or arched trajectory on a touch screen. The actions were made efficient or inefficient by adding or removing an obstructing object. The action disappeared mid-trajectory and participants touched the last seen screen position of the hand. Judgements of inefficient actions were biased towards the efficient prediction (straight trajectories upward to avoid the obstruction, arched trajectories downward towards the target). These corrections increased when the obstruction's presence/absence was explicitly acknowledged, and when the efficient trajectory was explicitly predicted. Additional supplementary experiments demonstrated that these biases occur during ongoing visual perception and/or immediately after motion offset. The teleological stance is at least partly perceptual, providing an ideal reference trajectory against which actual behaviour is evaluated.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant no. ES/J019178/1) awarded to P.B. and a Plymouth University PhD grant to K.L.M. Publisher Copyright: © 2018 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: action prediction,motion perception,prediction errors,representational momentum,social perception,teleological reasoning,immunology and microbiology(all),biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology(all),environmental science(all),agricultural and biological sciences(all) ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2400
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2024 18:39
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:39
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0638

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