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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effect of implied social presence on non-social attention tasks Kendall, William


The presence of another person, even if implied, has been shown to affect various social behaviours. Recently, the effect of implied presence has been extended to the field of social attention, specifically its impact on where people look at social stimuli. The present study investigated if implied presence, triggered by a recording camera switched on in the testing room, would have an effect on non-social spatial attention tasks: visual search, attentional capture, spatial cuing, and the SART. Implied social presence had a significant performance effect on all tasks by facilitating response time without any cost to accuracy. Critically, this facilitatory social presence effect was additive with the effect of spatial orienting. These data indicate that the significant effect of implied social presence is not limited to social domains, and even very simple lab-based nonsocial attention tasks are affected. Social presence operates independent of the spatial attention system and does not require real social observation -- simply the idea of observation through a camera is sufficient to enhance task performance.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada