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This research was supported by Economic and Social Research Council grant RES-000-23-0429 awarded to S. P. Tipper and A. E. Hayes.
Affective responses to objects can be influenced by cognitive processes such as perceptual fluency. Here we investigated whether the quality of motor interaction with an object influences affective response to the object. Participants grasped and moved objects using either a fluent action or a non-fluent action (avoiding an obstacle). Liking ratings were higher for objects in the fluent condition. Two further studies investigated whether the fluency of another person’s actions influences affective response. Observers watched movie clips of the motor actions described above, in conditions where the observed actor could be seen to be looking towards the grasped object, or where the actor’s head and gaze were not visible. Two results were observed: First, when the actor’s gaze cannot be seen, liking ratings of the objects are reduced. Second, action fluency of observed actions does influence liking ratings, but only when the actor’s gaze towards the object is visible. These findings provide supporting evidence for the important role of observed eye gaze in action simulation, and demonstrate that non-emotive actions can evoke empathic states in observers.
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- Self produced and observed actions influence emotion: the roles of action fluency and eye gaze
Amy E. Hayes
Matthew A. Paul
Steven P. Tipper