Ready Both to Your and to My Hands: Mapping the Action Space of Others (Study)

“Abstract: To date, mutual interaction between action and perception has been investigated mainly by focusing on single individuals. However, we perceive affording objects and acts upon them in a surrounding world inhabited by other perceiving and acting bodies. Thus, the issue arises as to whether our action-oriented object perception might be modulated by the presence of another potential actor. To tackle this issue we used the spatial alignment effect paradigm and systematically examined this effect when a visually presented handled object was located close either to the perceiver or to another individual (a virtual avatar). We found that the spatial alignment effect occurred whenever the object was presented within the reaching space of a potential actor, regardless of whether it was the participant’s own or the other’s reaching space. These findings show that objects may afford a suitable motor act when they are ready not only to our own hand but also, and most importantly, to the other’s hand. Our proposal is that this effect is likely to be due to a mapping of our own and the other’s reaching space and we posit that such mapping could play a critical role in joining our own and the other’s action.”

the study (free version online)

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