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Title page for ETD etd-05262016-145734

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Baker, Lewis John
URN etd-05262016-145734
Title Cognitive Processes in the Perception of Actions and Agents
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Daniel T. Levin Committee Chair
Brandon A. Ally Committee Member
John J. Rieser Committee Member
Megan M. Saylor Committee Member
  • social cognition
  • attention
  • working memory
  • event perception
  • perspective taking
  • visual search
  • action perception
Date of Defense 2016-05-18
Availability unrestricted
Sensory input from the social world is often bustling and chaotic, and yet human beings typically comprehend events with ease. Evidence suggests that the perceptual system uses social cues to guide awareness to relevant actions, objects and spatial locations. In three studies, I demonstrate some of the cognitive processes involved in the perception of actions and agents. Chapter 1 tests the limitations of our ability to perceive ongoing activity, finding that event perception requires limited-capacity resources that tax encoding of properties when viewing two events in parallel. Chapter 2 explores the limits of a proposed system that rapidly calculates another’s perspective, revealing a heuristic signal that one’s visuospatial access to an attended set of objects may be privileged. Chapter 3 then tests whether social agents guide visual attention, finding a curious tendency to search regions of space unseen by another agent. Combined, these studies illustrate mechanisms that guide awareness in the real world.
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