Does lacking information about your affordances impact your perception of others’ affordances? A test of the embodied simulation hypothesis

Abstract

It has been argued that observers perceive actors’ affordances via embodied simulation, that is, first perceiving their own affordance, which serves as a model for the actor’s affordance, and then adjusting that model to account for differences between themselves and the actor. If so, then preventing observers from picking up information about their own affordances should cause several effects. Specifically, observers should make more errors about the actor’s affordance compared to when the observer is free to pick up information about their own affordance. In addition, judgments about the actor’s affordance should align better with the observer’s affordance than with the actor’s affordance, and increase in error as differences between the observer’s and actor’s affordances increase. The present study tested those predictions. To do so, observers (participants) made judgments about the farthest distance that an actor (a confederate) could reach. The observer’s arms were either free to move or were immobilized by having the participant hold them behind their back. The present results did not support the predictions. The present research introduces a novel means for evaluating the Embodied Simulation Hypothesis, provides initial tests of related predictions, and corroborates prior research. In addition, it motivates important questions about embodied simulation and affordance perception.

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Author notes

This research was supported in part by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) under AOARD Project# 161OA071. Opinions, findings, and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US AFOSR.

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Correspondence to Keith S. Jones.

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Jones, K.S., Widlus, B.P. & Garcia, N.A. Does lacking information about your affordances impact your perception of others’ affordances? A test of the embodied simulation hypothesis. Psychon Bull Rev 27, 483–489 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-020-01716-9

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Keywords

  • Visual perception
  • Embodied cognition