Perception Journal Club

Animated triangles: An eye tracking investigation by Klein, Zwickel, Prinz, Frith (2009) Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62 (6), 1189 - 1197

We presented three types of animations on an eye tracking monitor to 31 adult participants. In line with previous work, verbal descriptions of these animations indicate that one type (theory of mind or ToM) evokes mental state attributions, while another type (random) does not, with an intermediate category (goal directed) evoking a moderate amount of mental state attributions. We expected longer fixations with greater depth of processing, which we assume is required for mental state attributions. In line with this expectation we found that the ToM animations invited long fixations; the random animations invited short fixations, while the goal-directed animations invited an intermediate amount of fixations, with some clips inviting shorter and others longer fixations. These findings demonstrate that it is possible to capture systematic differences in behaviour while viewing animations not only by means of a verbal measure, but also in terms of a simple measure of eye movements.