Manipulating avatar age and gender in level-2 visual perspective taking


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Visual perspective taking (VPT) represents how the world appears from another person’s position. The age, group status and emotional displays of the other person have been shown to affect task performance, but tasks often confound social and spatial outcome measures by embedding perspective taking in explicitly social contexts or theory-of-mind reasoning. Furthermore, while previous research has suggested that visual perspective taking may be impacted by avatar characteristics, it is unknown whether this is driven by general group processing or a specific deficit in mentalizing about outgroups, for example, children. Therefore, using a minimally social task (i.e., the task was not communicative, and acknowledging the “mind” of the avatar was not necessitated), we examined whether avatar age and avatar gender affect performance on simpler (low angular disparity) and more effortful, embodied (high angular disparity) perspective judgments. Ninety-two participants represented the visuospatial perspectives of a boy, girl, man, or woman who were presented at various angular disparities. A target object was placed in front of the avatar and participants responded to the orientation of the object from the avatar’s position. The findings suggest that social features of visuospatial perspective taking (VSPT) are processed separately from the fundamental spatial computations. Further, Level-2 VSPT appears to be affected by general group categorization (e.g., age and gender) rather than a deficit in mentalizing about a specific outgroup (e.g., children).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1431-1441
Number of pages11
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
Early online date13 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2023


  • Visual perspective taking
  • Avatar characteristics
  • Social cues
  • Spatial processing


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