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Social PerceptionDetection and Interpretation of Animacy, Agency, and Intention$
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M.D. Rutherford and Valerie A. Kuhlmeier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019279

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019279.001.0001

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Perceiving Animacy and Intentionality

Perceiving Animacy and Intentionality

Visual Processing or Higher-Level Judgment?

(p.197) 9 Perceiving Animacy and Intentionality
Social Perception

Brian J. Scholl

Tao Gao

The MIT Press

We can identify social agents in our environment not only on the basis of how they look, but also on the basis of how they move—and even simple geometric shapes can give rise to rich percepts of animacy and intentionality based on their motion patterns. But why should we think that such phenomena truly reflect visual processing, as opposed to higher-level judgment and categorization based on visual input? This chapter explores five lines of evidence: (1) The phenomenology of visual experience, (2) dramatic dependence on subtle visual display details, (3) implicit influences on visual performance, (4) activation of visual brain areas, and (5) interactions with other visual processes. Collectively, this evidence provides compelling support for the idea that visual processing itself traffics in animacy and intentionality.

Keywords:   Animacy, Visual processing, Intentionality

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