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This study investigated agent and expression intensity recognition in point-light displays depicting dancing performances. In a first session, participants danced with two different expression intensities to music, solo or in dyads. In a subsequent session, they watched point-light displays of 1–5-s duration, depicting their own, their partner’s or another participant’s recorded actions, and were asked to identify the agent (self vs. partner vs. stranger) and the intended expression intensity (expressive vs. inexpressive) of the performer. The results indicate that performer identity and expression intensity could be discerned reliably from displays as short as 1 s. The accuracy in judgment increased with exposure duration and, for performer identification, with higher expression intensity. Judgment accuracy in agent and expression intensity recognition tasks correlated with self-report empathy indices. Accuracy correlated also with confidence in judgment, but only in the intensity recognition task. The results are discussed in relation to perceptual and neural mechanisms underlying action and intention recognition.
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- Perceiving performer identity and intended expression intensity in point-light displays of dance
Peter E. Keller