Can't Touch This: The First-Person Perspective Provides Privileged Access to Predictions of Sensory Action Outcomes

Patric Bach, Wendy Fenton-Adams, Steven P. Tipper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that viewing others in pain activates cortical somatosensory processing areas and facilitates the detection of tactile targets. It has been suggested that such shared representations have evolved to enable us to better understand the actions and intentions of others. If this is the case, the effects of observing others in pain should be obtained from a range of viewing perspectives. Therefore, the current study examined the behavioral effects of observed grasps of painful and nonpainful objects from both a first- and third-person perspective. In the first-person perspective, a participant was faster to detect a tactile target delivered to their own hand when viewing painful grasping actions, compared with all nonpainful actions. However, this effect was not revealed in the third-person perspective. The combination of action and object information to predict the painful consequences of another person's actions when viewed from the first-person perspective, but not the third-person perspective, argues against a mechanism ostensibly evolved to understand the actions of others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-464
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
Early online date31 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • viewing perspective
  • first person
  • third person
  • action observation
  • action prediction
  • mirror neurons
  • PAIN

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