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      Category Processing and the human likeness dimension of the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis: Eye-Tracking Data

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          The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis (Mori, 1970) predicts that perceptual difficulty distinguishing between a humanlike object (e.g., lifelike prosthetic hand, mannequin) and its human counterpart evokes negative affect. Research has focused on affect, with inconsistent results, but little is known about how objects along the hypothesis’ dimension of human likeness (DHL) are actually perceived. This study used morph continua based on human and highly realistic computer-generated (avatar) faces to represent the DHL. Total number and dwell time of fixations to facial features were recorded while participants ( N = 60) judged avatar versus human category membership of the faces in a forced choice categorization task. Fixation and dwell data confirmed the face feature hierarchy (eyes, nose, and mouth in this order of importance) across the DHL. There were no further findings for fixation. A change in the relative importance of these features was found for dwell time, with greater preferential processing of eyes and mouth of categorically ambiguous faces compared with unambiguous avatar faces. There were no significant differences between ambiguous and human faces. These findings applied for men and women, though women generally dwelled more on the eyes to the disadvantage of the nose. The mouth was unaffected by gender. In summary, the relative importance of facial features changed on the DHL’s non-human side as a function of categorization ambiguity. This change was indicated by dwell time only, suggesting greater depth of perceptual processing of the eyes and mouth of ambiguous faces compared with these features in unambiguous avatar faces.

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                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                07 March 2013
                : 4
                1Department of Neuropsychology, University of Zurich Zurich, Switzerland
                Author notes

                Edited by: Emmanuel Pothos, City University London, UK

                Reviewed by: Ingmar Visser, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands; Zheng Wang, Ohio State University, USA

                *Correspondence: Marcus Cheetham, Department of Neuropsychology, University of Zurich, Binzmühlestrasse 14/Box 25, CH-8050 Zürich, Switzerland. e-mail: m.cheetham@

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Cognitive Science, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology.

                Copyright © 2013 Cheetham, Pavlovic, Jordan, Suter and Jancke.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 112, Pages: 12, Words: 10474
                Original Research


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