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Are fixations in static natural scenes a useful predictor of attention in the real world?

Foulsham, T and Kingstone, A (2017) 'Are fixations in static natural scenes a useful predictor of attention in the real world?' Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71 (2). 172 - 181. ISSN 1196-1961

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Abstract

© 2017 Canadian Psychological Association. Research investigating scene perception normally involves laboratory experiments using static images. Much has been learned about how observers look at pictures of the real world and the attentional mechanisms underlying this behaviour. However, the use of static, isolated pictures as a proxy for studying everyday attention in real environments has led to the criticism that such experiments are artificial. We report a new study that tests the extent to which the real world can be reduced to simpler laboratory stimuli. We recorded the gaze of participants walking on a university campus with a mobile eye tracker, and then showed static frames from this walk to new participants, in either a random or sequential order. The aim was to compare the gaze of participants walking in the real environment with fixations on pictures of the same scene. The data show that picture order affects interobserver fixation consistency and changes looking patterns. Critically, while fixations on the static images overlapped significantly with the actual real-world eye movements, they did so no more than a model that assumed a general bias to the centre. Remarkably, a model that simply takes into account where the eyes are normally positioned in the head - independent of what is actually in the scene - does far better than any other model. These data reveal that viewing patterns to static scenes are a relatively poor proxy for predicting real world eye movement behaviour, while raising intriguing possibilities for how to best measure attention in everyday life.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 14:47
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20090

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