Physical Affordances Capture Attention
AuthorGomez, Michael Anthony
AdvisorSnow, Jacqueline C
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The opportunity an object presents for action is known as an ‘affordance’. Studies using two-dimensional (2D) images of graspable objects demonstrate that affordances are processed automatically and have a powerful effect on attention and behavior. An important assumption in previous research, however, is that images elicit comparable effects on selection and filtering as real-world graspable objects. We tested this assumption by comparing interference effects on a flanker task using displays consisting of real-world tangible objects versus matched 2D (Experiment 1) or three-dimensional (3D) stereo images (Experiment 2) of the same items. As expected, flanker effects were observed for all types of stimuli. Critically, however, real objects elicited greater interference on responses overall, and irrelevant real flankers produced greater interference than planar and stereo image displays. Our results raise fundamental questions about the extent to which images are suitable proxies for real tangible objects in psychological research.