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Visual perception of actions: The influence of time structure

Working group Realistic Depictions Lab
Duration 11/2013 - open-end

Budget resources

Project description

Human observers watching events in everyday life do not process these events as a continuous stream. In fact, already during perception they divide the stream of events into meaningful segments. Media use this effect and often present only cutouts of an event stream, instead of presenting an event continuously. This project examines the influence of different kinds of event presentations on perception and cognitive processing of the viewers.


On the one hand, the project is interested in 'narrated time', i.e., the time flow of the visually presented content. Therefore it is examined if cutouts of events are processed as placeholders for longer segments of the event. Participants view film clips presenting single actors or actresses performing everyday actions. The film clips use ellipses as stylistic device, i.e., the film clips skip parts of the presented events and do not present them continuously. How do the viewers understand the events? Do they process the presented sequences nevertheless as continuous and coherent, although there are skips in time?


On the other hand, the project cares about 'time of narration'. It is examined if elliptical time structures influence the perception of the presentation itself. How do we perceive films that skip smaller or bigger parts of event time? Do these skips in time influence the narrative pace of a film or the cognitive load during film perception? The project examines the cognitive processing of dynamic event sequences in everyday life. Furthermore, the results of the project can be used when analyzing or producing visual presentations of dynamic event sequences, for example in instructional films.