Wu, D. W.-L., Jakobsen, T., Anderson, N.C., Bischof, W. F., and Kingstone, A. (2013). Why we should not forget about the non-social world: Subjective preferences, exploratory eye-movements, and individual differences. 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Berlin, Germany, July 31 - August 3, 3801-3806.

We investigated both subjective and objective differences in viewing non-social versus social scenes. Specifically, we examined four related questions: 1) whether participants prefer non-social or social scenes, 2) whether there are differences in subjective exploration of non-social and social scenes, 3) whether there are differences in objective exploration of these scenes, and 4) whether a non-social trait - connection to nature - influences the extent of non-social scene exploration. Experiment 1 found, surprisingly, that participants prefer non-social over social scenes, and correspondingly they reported they explored these scenes more. Experiment 2 used eye-tracking to test the validity of this introspection and confirmed that participants explore non-social scenes more than social scenes. We also discovered that connection to nature selectively modulates exploration of non-social scenes, demonstrating a critical interaction between observer and scene characteristics in the deployment of spatial attention.

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