The Department of Cognitive Science cordially invites you to the public defense of the PhD thesis
Action Observation and Imagery in Visuospatial Perspective Taking
by Ieva Lukošiūnaitė
Monday, December 4, 2 pm CET. Vienna, CEU GF Auditorium
PRIMARY SUPERVISOR: Natalie Sebanz (CEU)
SECONDARY SUPERVISOR: Agnes Melinda Kovacs (CEU)
Members of the Dissertation Committee:
CHAIR: Eva Wittenberg, CEU
EXTERNAL EXAMINER: Klaus Kessler a Full Professor at the School of Psychology from University College Dublin and
EXTERNAL EXAMINER: Marcello Costantini, an Associate professor at the University G. d'Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara.
The ability to take each other’s visuospatial perspective plays an essential role in social cognition. However, there is currently no integrated view of perspective taking that can guide the interpretation of findings and drive further research . In the current dissertation, we propose that the basis of perspective taking rests on people’s skills of mental navigation geared towards action planning. We conducted three empirical studies that were motivated by this view. Study 1 investigated whether action observation facilitates perspective taking and whether facilitation depends on the level of mental own-body transformation required to take perspective. The results showed that action observation facilitated perspective taking independently of the level of mental-own body transformation required. Study 2 collected participants’ verbal responses and investigated the mechanisms whereby action observation facilitates perspective taking. The results suggested that perspective taking is facilitated by action simulation and co-representation processes that orient attention towards the outcome of the observed action. This facilitation likely involves anatomical mapping. Further, Studies 1 and 3 replicated previous research findings (Kessler and Thompson, 2010), showing that participants are more accurate and faster to take the perspective of a person compared to an inanimate object (a chair). This difference was the strongest at the highest angular disparities between participants and the target location. Study 3 showed that this effect is also present at the 0-degree angle, indicating that having a possibility for bodily mapping when taking the perspective of a person helps not only with mental-own body rotation but could also induce action-related processing and help with mental own-body translation in space. Study 3 also investigated how people consider insurmountable environmental constraints when taking another perspective. The results showed that participants took the perspective faster when the target location was behind insurmountable environmental constraints compared to when it was presented to be easily reachable. This effect was present both when participants took the perspective of an avatar and
an inanimate object (a chair). Overall, these findings contribute to our understanding of the influence of action observation on perspective taking and the processes of one’s own-motor imagery.
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