Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 143–153 | Cite as

Qualitative influences on the perception of movement: An experimental study

  • Lois Imber Mintz
  • Barry E. Collins


One of the most puzzling features of “hyperactivity” in children is the importance of activity itself. Generalized overactivity has not been found to be a valid diagnostic marker. Could some qualitative features of activity be important determinants of the perceived quantity of activity? The analogue study reported here derives from a social-psychological hypothesis that anything that makes a behavior more noticeable or distracting can create an illusion of increased movement. Subjects performed a simple cognitive task while watching short films of adult actors. Two variables were manipulated: (a) The sound level was either loud or quiet, and (b) instructions to subjects were varied so that the behaviors shown were perceived as either appropriate or inappropriate. Results strongly supported the hypothesis. Loudness and contextual inappropriateness made the films more distracting, produced higher ratings of the amount of movement observed, and led to more negative evaluations of the behaviors seen. Implications for assessment and intervention are discussed.


Sound Level Hyperactive Child Judgment Process Abnormal Child Psychology Simple Cognitive Task 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lois Imber Mintz
    • 1
  • Barry E. Collins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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