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Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale - Vol 71, Iss 3

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Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology The Canadian Psychological Association is partnering with the American Psychological Association to publish Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. In each issue, subscribers receive original research papers that advance the understating of the broad field of experimental psychology.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Chatting in the face of the eyewitness: The impact of extraneous cell-phone conversation on memory for a perpetrator.
    Cell-phone conversation is ubiquitous within public spaces. The current study investigates whether ignored cell-phone conversation impairs eyewitness memory for a perpetrator. Participants viewed a video of a staged crime in the presence of 1 side of a comprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningful halfalogue), 2 sides of a comprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningful dialogue), 1 side of an incomprehensible cell-phone conversation (meaningless halfalogue), or quiet. Between 24 and 28 hr later, participants freely described the perpetrator’s face, constructed a single composite image of the perpetrator from memory, and attempted to identify the perpetrator from a sequential lineup. Further, participants rated the likeness of the composites to the perpetrator. Face recall and lineup identification were impaired when participants witnessed the staged crime in the presence of a meaningful halfalogue compared to a meaningless halfalogue, meaningful dialogue, or quiet. Moreover, likeness ratings showed that the composites constructed after ignoring the meaningful halfalogue resembled the perpetrator less than did those constructed after experiencing quiet or ignoring a meaningless halfalogue or a meaningful dialogue. The unpredictability of the meaningful content of the halfalogue, rather than its acoustic unexpectedness, produces distraction. The results are novel in that they suggest that an everyday distraction, even when presented in a different modality to target information, can impair the long-term memory of an eyewitness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Load theory behind the wheel; perceptual and cognitive load effects.
    Perceptual Load Theory has been proposed as a resolution to the longstanding early versus late selection debate in cognitive psychology. There is much evidence in support of Load Theory but very few applied studies, despite the potential for the model to shed light on everyday attention and distraction. Using a driving simulator, the effect of perceptual and cognitive load on drivers’ visual search was assessed. The findings were largely in line with Load Theory, with reduced distractor processing under high perceptual load, but increased distractor processing under high cognitive load. The effect of load on driving behaviour was also analysed, with significant differences in driving behaviour under perceptual and cognitive load. In addition, the effect of perceptual load on drivers’ levels of awareness was investigated. High perceptual load significantly increased inattentional blindness and deafness, for stimuli that were both relevant and irrelevant to driving. High perceptual load also increased RTs to hazards. The current study helps to advance Load Theory by illustrating its usefulness outside of traditional paradigms. There are also applied implications for driver safety and roadway design, as the current study suggests that perceptual and cognitive load are important factors in driver attention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Re-reading after mind wandering.
    Though much research has been conducted on the causes and processes underlying mind wandering, relatively little has addressed what happens after an episode of mind wandering. We explore this issue in the context of reading. Specifically, by examining re-reading behaviours following mind wandering episodes. Results from 2 studies reveal that after mind wandering, participants re-read nearly half the time. This re-reading occurs whether mind wandering is self-caught or probe-caught, and it typically involves retracing a line or 2 of text. Based on subjective reports, it appears that individuals re-read when they feel that clarification of the text is needed, suggesting that a key concept of the text is missed during a mind wandering episode. Future work aimed at understanding how individuals refocus their attention following mind wandering in different settings should provide additional insights into the fluctuation of attentional focus and the immediate impact of a mind wandering episode. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Staring reality in the face: A comparison of social attention across laboratory and real world measures suggests little common ground.
    The ability to attend to someone else’s gaze is thought to represent one of the essential building blocks of the human sociocognitive system. This behavior, termed social attention, has traditionally been assessed using laboratory procedures in which participants’ response time and/or accuracy performance indexes attentional function. Recently, a parallel body of emerging research has started to examine social attention during real life social interactions using naturalistic and observational methodologies. The main goal of the present work was to begin connecting these two lines of inquiry. To do so, here we operationalized, indexed, and measured the engagement and shifting components of social attention using covert and overt measures. These measures were obtained during an unconstrained real-world social interaction and during a typical laboratory social cuing task. Our results indicated reliable and overall similar indices of social attention engagement and shifting within each task. However, these measures did not relate across the two tasks. We discuss these results as potentially reflecting the differences in social attention mechanisms, the specificity of the cuing task’s measurement, as well as possible general dissimilarities with respect to context, task goals, and/or social presence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Gaze behavior to faces during dyadic interaction.
    A long-standing hypothesis is that humans have a bias for fixating the eye region in the faces of others. Most studies have tested this hypothesis with static images or videos of faces, yet recent studies suggest that the use of such “nonresponsive” stimuli might overlook an influence of social context. The present study addressed whether the bias for fixating the eye region in faces would persist in a situation that allowed for social interaction. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate a setup in which a duo could engage in social interaction while their eye movements were recorded. Here, we show that there is a bias for fixating the eye region of a partner that is physically present. Moreover, we report that the time 1 partner in a duo spends looking at the eyes is a good predictor of how long the other partner looks at the eyes. In Experiment 2, we investigate whether participants attune to the level of eye contact instigated by a partner by having a confederate pose as one of the partners. The confederate was subsequently instructed to either fixate the eyes of the observer or scan the entire face. Gaze behaviour of the confederate did not affect gaze behaviour of the observers. We conclude that there is a bias to fixate the eyes when partners can engage in social interaction. In addition, the amount of time spent looking at the eyes is duo-dependent, but not easily manipulated by instructing the gaze behaviour of 1 partner. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Spontaneous gaze selection and following during naturalistic social interactions in school-aged children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.
    Using a novel naturalistic paradigm allowing participants the freedom to spontaneously select and follow gaze cues in their environment, this study extends previous research conducted with younger children to determine whether school-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD, n = 17) demonstrate abnormal gaze following relative to typically developing (TD, n = 15) children. The participant and experimenter played a series of games, during which the experimenter pseudorandomly averted her gaze toward a social target (person) or a nonsocial target (object). A significant finding was that, relative to TD children, children with ASD were slower to follow the experimenter’s gaze relative to the start of the trial (social targets d = −.93 [−1.70, −.16], nonsocial targets d = −1.05 [−1.88, −.20]). When we analyzed the duration of glances to the experimenter, we found that the ASD group made longer glances relative to TD children, but only in the nonsocial target condition (social targets d = .01 [−.68, .71], nonsocial targets d = −.81 [−1.53, −.08]). Other analyses revealed patterns of gaze selection and following that may help interpret the main findings. Despite the differences in the timing of gaze selection and following, the most common type of responder in both groups was one who followed the experimenter’s gaze on over half of the trials. This pattern of results argues against a clear deficit in social attention in school-age children with ASD and underscores the importance of measuring both the timing of distinct mechanisms of social attention and the context in which these behaviors occur. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • How different cultures look at faces depends on the interpersonal context.
    Culture can influence how we see and experience the world, and recent research shows that it even determines how we look at each other. Yet, most of these laboratory studies use images of faces that are deprived of any social context. In the real world, we not only look at people’s faces to perceive who they are, but also to signal information back to them. It is unknown, therefore, within which interpersonal contexts cultural differences in looking at faces emerge. In the current study, we manipulated one aspect of the interpersonal context of faces: whether the target face either established mutual gaze looking directly into the camera as if talking to the viewer or averted gaze slightly to the side as if talking to another person. East Asian and Western participants viewed target face videos while their eye movements were recorded. If cultural differences are exclusively related to encoding information from others, interpersonal context should not matter. However, if cultural differences are also the result of culturally specific expectations about how to appropriately interact with another person, then cultural differences should be modulated by whether the speaker seemingly addresses the viewer or another person. In support of the second hypothesis, we only find cultural differences in looking at faces in the mutual gaze condition. We speculate that cultural norms surrounding the use of gaze as a social signal may underlie previous findings of cultural differences in face perception. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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