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The eyes have it: a perceptual investigation of eyespots

Dziurawiec, S. and Deregowski, J.B. (2002) The eyes have it: a perceptual investigation of eyespots. Perception, 31 (11). p. 1313.

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Previous work with non-human species has shown that eyespots function as sign stimuli for defensive behaviour. But it is unknown to what extent eyespots are a dominant feature of objects for human perceptual responses. We examined whether young children perceive eyespots as a dominant object feature. One hundred and nineteen children from the first, second, and third grades were presented with small manikins, called "Joopes" that varied in the number, type, and arrangement of facial features. Four kinds of Joope heads were used: single element (eyes, mouth, or beak only), monovalent (spatially concordant eyes and mouth, or eyes and beak), ambivalent (asymmetrical eyes and beak, or eyes and mouth), and cyclopean (single eye with orthogonal beak). Two task groups (Peepers and Gobs) 'helped' the Joopes to either 'see' their food or 'eat' it, by placing food in one of 24 feeding dishes. Results indicated that responses made to the ambivalent Joopes differed, with greater 'drift' shown by the 'eating' group towards the 'seeing' responses than by the 'seeing' group towards the 'eating' responses. The dominant role of eyespots was thus confirmed for children in the second and third grades, but response inconsistencies in the youngest group suggested difficulties in handling incongruent stimuli. The implications of these results for understanding basic perceptual processes are discussed.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Pion
Copyright: Pion
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