Visual perspective taking for avatars in a Simon task
In modern digital applications, users often interact with virtual representations of themselves or others, called avatars. We examined how these avatars and their perspectives influence stimulus–response compatibility in a Simon task. Participants responded to light/dark blue stimuli with left/right key presses in the presence of a task-irrelevant avatar. Changes in stimulus–response compatibility were used to quantify changes in the mental representation of the task and perspective taking toward this avatar. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that perspective taking for an avatar occurred in orthogonal stimulus–response mappings, causing a compatibility effect from the avatar’s point of view. In the following two experiments we introduced a larger variety of angular disparities between the participant and avatar. In Experiment 3, the Simon effect with lateralized stimulus positions remained largely unaffected by the avatar, pointing toward an absence of perspective taking. In Experiment 4, after avatar hand movements were added in order to strengthen the participants’ sense of agency over the avatar, a spatial compatibility effect from the avatar’s perspective was observed again, and hints of the selective use of perspective taking on a trial-by-trial basis were found. Overall, the results indicate that users can incorporate the perspective of an avatar into their mental representation of a situation, even when this perspective is unnecessary to complete a task, but that certain contextual requirements have to be met.
KeywordsAvatar Orthogonal compatibility Perspective taking Simon effect Stimulus–response compatibility Action effects
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