Parametric induction of animacy experience

Consciousness and Cognition 17 (2):425-437 (2008)
Abstract
Graphical displays of simple moving geometrical figures have been repeatedly used to study the attribution of animacy in human observers. Yet little is known about the relevant movement characteristics responsible for this experience. The present study introduces a novel parametric research paradigm, which allows for the experimental control of specific motion parameters and a predictable influence on the attribution of animacy. Two experiments were conducted using 3D computer animations of one or two objects systematically introducing variations in the following aspects of motion: directionality, discontinuity and responsiveness. Both experiments further varied temporal kinematics. Results showed that animacy experience increased with the time a moving object paused in the vicinity of a second object and with increasing complexity of interaction between the objects . The experience of animacy could be successfully modulated in a parametric fashion by the systematic variation of comparably simple differential movement characteristics
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