The role of social attention in older adults’ ability to interpret naturalistic social scenes

Sarah A Grainger (Corresponding Author), Henriette R Steinvik, Julie D Henry, Louise H Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Age-related differences on theory of mind (ToM) tasks are well established. However, the literature has been criticised for predominantly relying on tasks with poor ecological validity, and consequently it remains unclear whether these age differences extend to tasks with greater realism. In addition, we currently have a limited understanding of the factors that may contribute to age-related declines in ToM. To address these issues, we conducted two studies that assessed age differences in ToM using multimodal social scene stimuli. Study 1 also examined eye movements to assess whether biases in visual attention may be related to age-related difficulties in ToM, and Study 2 included an assessment of social attention (as indexed by biological motion perception) and working memory to assess whether these capacities may explain age difficulties in ToM. In both studies, the results showed that older adults performed worse than their younger counterparts on the ToM tasks, indicating that age-related difficulties in ToM extend to measures that more closely represent everyday social interactions. The eye-tracking data in Study 1 showed that older adults gazed less at the faces of protagonists in the social scenes compared with younger adults; however, these visual biases were not associated with ToM ability. Study 2 showed that older age was associated with a reduced ability to detect biological motion cues, and this mediated age-related variance in ToM ability. These findings are discussed in relation to competing theoretical frameworks of ageing that predict either improvements or declines in ToM with age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1328-1343
Number of pages16
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume72
Issue number6
Early online date10 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Fingerprint

Theory of Mind
Aptitude
Motion Perception
Interpersonal Relations
Eye Movements
Short-Term Memory
Cues
Young Adult

Keywords

  • ToM
  • ecological validity
  • eye tracking
  • biological motion perception
  • working memory

Cite this

The role of social attention in older adults’ ability to interpret naturalistic social scenes. / Grainger, Sarah A (Corresponding Author); Steinvik, Henriette R; Henry, Julie D; Phillips, Louise H.

In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol. 72, No. 6, 01.06.2019, p. 1328-1343.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Grainger, Sarah A ; Steinvik, Henriette R ; Henry, Julie D ; Phillips, Louise H. / The role of social attention in older adults’ ability to interpret naturalistic social scenes. In: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2019 ; Vol. 72, No. 6. pp. 1328-1343.
@article{84f335ee152f4dc08b3af9f1dbf75249,
title = "The role of social attention in older adults’ ability to interpret naturalistic social scenes",
abstract = "Age-related differences on theory of mind (ToM) tasks are well established. However, the literature has been criticised for predominantly relying on tasks with poor ecological validity, and consequently it remains unclear whether these age differences extend to tasks with greater realism. In addition, we currently have a limited understanding of the factors that may contribute to age-related declines in ToM. To address these issues, we conducted two studies that assessed age differences in ToM using multimodal social scene stimuli. Study 1 also examined eye movements to assess whether biases in visual attention may be related to age-related difficulties in ToM, and Study 2 included an assessment of social attention (as indexed by biological motion perception) and working memory to assess whether these capacities may explain age difficulties in ToM. In both studies, the results showed that older adults performed worse than their younger counterparts on the ToM tasks, indicating that age-related difficulties in ToM extend to measures that more closely represent everyday social interactions. The eye-tracking data in Study 1 showed that older adults gazed less at the faces of protagonists in the social scenes compared with younger adults; however, these visual biases were not associated with ToM ability. Study 2 showed that older age was associated with a reduced ability to detect biological motion cues, and this mediated age-related variance in ToM ability. These findings are discussed in relation to competing theoretical frameworks of ageing that predict either improvements or declines in ToM with age.",
keywords = "ToM, ecological validity, eye tracking, biological motion perception, working memory",
author = "Grainger, {Sarah A} and Steinvik, {Henriette R} and Henry, {Julie D} and Phillips, {Louise H}",
note = "Funding This work was supported by a Discovery Project grant (DP150100302) from the Australian Research Council awarded to J.D.H. and L.H.P.",
year = "2019",
month = "6",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1747021818791774",
language = "English",
volume = "72",
pages = "1328--1343",
journal = "Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology",
issn = "1747-0218",
publisher = "Psychology Press Ltd",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The role of social attention in older adults’ ability to interpret naturalistic social scenes

AU - Grainger, Sarah A

AU - Steinvik, Henriette R

AU - Henry, Julie D

AU - Phillips, Louise H

N1 - Funding This work was supported by a Discovery Project grant (DP150100302) from the Australian Research Council awarded to J.D.H. and L.H.P.

PY - 2019/6/1

Y1 - 2019/6/1

N2 - Age-related differences on theory of mind (ToM) tasks are well established. However, the literature has been criticised for predominantly relying on tasks with poor ecological validity, and consequently it remains unclear whether these age differences extend to tasks with greater realism. In addition, we currently have a limited understanding of the factors that may contribute to age-related declines in ToM. To address these issues, we conducted two studies that assessed age differences in ToM using multimodal social scene stimuli. Study 1 also examined eye movements to assess whether biases in visual attention may be related to age-related difficulties in ToM, and Study 2 included an assessment of social attention (as indexed by biological motion perception) and working memory to assess whether these capacities may explain age difficulties in ToM. In both studies, the results showed that older adults performed worse than their younger counterparts on the ToM tasks, indicating that age-related difficulties in ToM extend to measures that more closely represent everyday social interactions. The eye-tracking data in Study 1 showed that older adults gazed less at the faces of protagonists in the social scenes compared with younger adults; however, these visual biases were not associated with ToM ability. Study 2 showed that older age was associated with a reduced ability to detect biological motion cues, and this mediated age-related variance in ToM ability. These findings are discussed in relation to competing theoretical frameworks of ageing that predict either improvements or declines in ToM with age.

AB - Age-related differences on theory of mind (ToM) tasks are well established. However, the literature has been criticised for predominantly relying on tasks with poor ecological validity, and consequently it remains unclear whether these age differences extend to tasks with greater realism. In addition, we currently have a limited understanding of the factors that may contribute to age-related declines in ToM. To address these issues, we conducted two studies that assessed age differences in ToM using multimodal social scene stimuli. Study 1 also examined eye movements to assess whether biases in visual attention may be related to age-related difficulties in ToM, and Study 2 included an assessment of social attention (as indexed by biological motion perception) and working memory to assess whether these capacities may explain age difficulties in ToM. In both studies, the results showed that older adults performed worse than their younger counterparts on the ToM tasks, indicating that age-related difficulties in ToM extend to measures that more closely represent everyday social interactions. The eye-tracking data in Study 1 showed that older adults gazed less at the faces of protagonists in the social scenes compared with younger adults; however, these visual biases were not associated with ToM ability. Study 2 showed that older age was associated with a reduced ability to detect biological motion cues, and this mediated age-related variance in ToM ability. These findings are discussed in relation to competing theoretical frameworks of ageing that predict either improvements or declines in ToM with age.

KW - ToM

KW - ecological validity

KW - eye tracking

KW - biological motion perception

KW - working memory

UR - http://www.mendeley.com/research/role-social-attention-older-adults-ability-interpret-naturalistic-social-scenes

U2 - 10.1177/1747021818791774

DO - 10.1177/1747021818791774

M3 - Article

VL - 72

SP - 1328

EP - 1343

JO - Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

JF - Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

SN - 1747-0218

IS - 6

ER -