The Role of Biological Motion in Identity Representations : Mechanism of the Integration of Body Form and Body Motion in Person Identification

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2021-05-04

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Abstract

Anecdotally, we all have recognized a familiar person simply by their motions. However, despite this shared experience, remarkably there are only a handful of studies that suggest the contribution of motion to person recognition. What remains unclear is what aspect of a dynamic body is diagnostic of the identity. Is it the body form? Or is it the body motion? In particular, what is the extent to which body motion and body form information contribute to person recognition. In a set of experiments, I tested whether or not the perception of body identity was influenced by variations in body motion and body form. Specifically, by employing the state-of-the-art motion capture and animation retargeting techniques, and psychophysical methods, I assessed the contribution of body motion and body form in a systematic way by varying the relative saliency of form cues. Two main questions were addressed in this dissertation: 1.) does body motion influence whole person identification when the body form information varies (Experiment 1)?, and 2.) does body motion influence whole person identification when the body form information is ambiguous (Experiment 2)? In Experiment 1, I examined the role of body motion information in identification of individuals with similar versus dissimilar body forms, when body form information varied across trials. The variation in body form information was achieved by morphing between vii body forms. The results indicated that body motion biases the identification in both similar and dissimilar body form conditions. Additionally, there was no difference between the magnitude of the motion bias across the conditions. In Experiment 2, I explored the role of body motion information in identification of individuals with similar body forms, when body form information was ambiguous. The ambiguity in body form information was achieved by presenting body forms in viewpoints that provide non-optimal form information. The results showed that body motion biased the identification across all viewpoints. However, there was no difference between the magnitude of the bias in these conditions. Collectively, these experiments provide a first look at the extent to which body form and body motion contribute to person identification beyond the face.

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Recognition (Psychology), Body composition, Human mechanics, Identity (Psychology)

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