• Between-task consistency, temporal stability and the role of posture in simple reach and fishing hand preference in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

      Diaz, Sergio; Murray, Lindsay; Roberts, Sam; Rodway, Paul; Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; University of Chester: Liverpool John Moores University (Elsevier, 2021-07-31)
      Studying hand preferences in chimpanzees can provide insights into the evolutionary origins of human hemispheric specialization. Research on chimpanzee hand preference requires careful examination of important factors such as posture, between-task consistency and temporal stability, although few studies have investigated all of these factors in combination. We investigated hand preference in simple reach and fishing behaviours in a group of 19 chimpanzees at Chester Zoo in the UK. Simple reach was defined as extending a hand to grasp a small object, then flexing the limb in a continuous motion, and was examined in quadrupedal, sitting and climbing postures. Fish in hole was defined as inserting a stick into a hole in the wall with one hand and then extracting it with the same hand. Between-task consistency of hand preference was assessed by comparing simple reach and fish in hole, while temporal stability was assessed by comparing simple reach from two points in time: 2017 and 2019. The data showed no significant influence of posture on the strength of hand preference, which contrasts with previous research. The findings of this study show temporal stability in simple reach, although only partial between-task consistency. Overall, the results indicate that simple reach elicits laterality at the individual level and is consistent across postures and stable over time, which is consistent with the literature. These results suggest that posture stability may be important in affecting hand preference. Further, whilst there was overall stability in hand preference across time periods, some individuals changed their preferred hand, suggesting there may be individual level temporal instability of hand preference for certain tasks.
    • Concreteness of semantic interpretations of abstract and representational artworks

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester
      The authors tested two contrasting theoretical predictions to establish whether semantic interpretations of abstract artworks had different lexical concreteness from those of representational artworks. In Experiment 1, 49 non-expert participants provided brief verbal interpretations of 20 abstract and 20 representational artworks. Frequentist and Bayesian Linear Mixed Models showed that the words’ concreteness levels were robustly higher for interpretations of abstract artworks than representational artworks. This difference was present regardless of the inclusion or exclusion of function words. Potential diluting or inflating impacts on the effect due to the multi-word responses were examined in Experiment 2, in which 72 new participants provided single-word interpretations for the same artworks. The effect replicated with a larger effect size. The findings suggest that non-expert viewers prioritise establishing what is depicted over seeking deeper meanings if the depicted is not readily established perceptually. The findings are incompatible with the theoretical stance that abstract art has abstract meaning. Instead, the findings are consistent with complex models of aesthetic processing in which meaning may emerge in stages. The effect of art type on the concreteness of meaning is an important, hitherto undiscovered basic finding in empirical aesthetics. Our novel methods enable further research in this field.
    • The Development of Shared Liking of Representational but not Abstract Art in Primary School Children and Their Justifications for Liking

      Rodway, Paul; Kirkham, Julie A.; Schepman, Astrid; Lambert, Jordana; Locke, Anastasia; University of Chester (Frontiers, 2016-02-05)
      Understanding how aesthetic preferences are shared among individuals, and its developmental time course, is a fundamental question in aesthetics. It has been shown that semantic associations, in response to representational artworks, overlap more strongly among individuals than those generated by abstract artworks and that the emotional valence of the associations also overlaps more for representational artworks. This valence response may be a key driver in aesthetic appreciation. The current study tested predictions derived from the semantic association account in a developmental context. Twenty 4-, 6-, 8- and 10-year-old children (n = 80) were shown 20 artworks (10 representational, 10 abstract) and were asked to rate each artwork and to explain their decision. Cross-observer agreement in aesthetic preferences increased with age from 4–8 years for both abstract and representational art. However, after age 6 the level of shared appreciation for representational and abstract artworks diverged, with significantly higher levels of agreement for representational than abstract artworks at age 8 and 10. The most common justifications for representational artworks involved subject matter, while for abstract artworks formal artistic properties and color were the most commonly used justifications. Representational artwork also showed a significantly higher proportion of associations and emotional responses than abstract artworks. In line with predictions from developmental cognitive neuroscience, references to the artist as an agent increased between ages 4 and 6 and again between ages 6 and 8, following the development of Theory of Mind. The findings support the view that increased experience with representational content during the life span reduces inter-individual variation in aesthetic appreciation and increases shared preferences. In addition, brain and cognitive development appear to impact on art appreciation at milestone ages.
    • Greater cross-viewer similarity of semantic associations for representational than for abstract artworks

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; Pullen, Sarah J.; Department of Psychology, University of Chester (The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc., 2015-10-22)
      It has been shown previously that liking and valence of associations in response to artworks show greater convergence across viewers for representational than for abstract artwork. The current research explored whether the same applies to the semantic content of the associations. We used data gained with an adapted Unique Corporate Association Valence (UCAV) measure, which invited 24 participants to give short verbal responses to 11 abstract and 11 representational artworks. We paired the responses randomly to responses given to the same artwork, and computed semantic similarity scores using UMBC Ebiquity software. This showed significantly greater semantic similarity scores for representational than abstract art. A control analysis, in which responses were randomly paired with responses from the same category (abstract, representational) showed no significant results, ruling out a baseline effect. For both abstract and representational artworks, randomly paired responses resembled each other less than responses from the same artworks, but the effect was much larger for representational artworks. Our work shows that individuals share semantic associations in response to artworks with other viewers to a greater extent when the artwork is representational than abstract. Our novel method shows potential utility for many areas of psychology that aim to understand the semantic convergence of people’s verbal responses, not least aesthetic psychology.
    • Gut thinking and eye tracking: Evidence for a central preference heuristic

      Thoma, Volker; Rodway, Paul; Tamlyn, Guy; University of East London; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2021-09-01)
      People prefer the central item in an array of items. This could be due to applying a decision heuristic or greater visual attention to the central item. We manipulated task instructions as participants chose one from three consumer items. The instructions were to “think carefully” in one block and to “use gut feeling” in another. A centrality preference appeared only in the “gut” condition, which was also negatively correlated with self-reported reflective thinking disposition (Need-for-Cognition). Eye-movement patterns, however, were equivalent across both instruction conditions with more frequent and longer fixations on the middle items. The findings demonstrate an effect of instructions on the centrality preference for non-identical consumer items, and provide evidence for a heuristic cause of the centrality preference rather than the allocation of visual attention. The results also show that the centrality preference is more likely to be present when people choose quickly and intuitively.
    • Initial validation of the general attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence Scale

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester
      A new General Attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence Scale (GAAIS) was developed. The scale underwent initial statistical validation via Exploratory Factor Analysis, which identified positive and negative subscales. Both subscales captured emotions in line with their valence. In addition, the positive subscale reflected societal and personal utility, whereas the negative subscale reflected concerns. The scale showed good psychometric indices and convergent and discriminant validity against existing measures. To cross-validate general attitudes with attitudes towards specific instances of AI applications, summaries of tasks accomplished by specific applications of Artificial Intelligence were sourced from newspaper articles. These were rated for comfortableness and perceived capability. Comfortableness with specific applications was a strong predictor of general attitudes as measured by the GAAIS, but perceived capability was a weaker predictor. Participants viewed AI applications involving big data (e.g. astronomy, law, pharmacology) positively, but viewed applications for tasks involving human judgement, (e.g. medical treatment, psychological counselling) negatively. Applications with a strong ethical dimension led to stronger discomfort than their rated capabilities would predict. The survey data suggested that people held mixed views of AI. The initially validated two-factor GAAIS to measure General Attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence is included in the Appendix.
    • A leftward bias for the arrangement of consumer items that differ in attractiveness

      Rodway, Paul; Schepman, Astrid; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-06-24)
      People are frequently biased to use left side information more than right side information to inform their perceptual judgements. This research examined whether the leftward bias also applied to preferences for the arrangement of everyday consumer items. Pairs of consumer items were created where one item was more attractive than the other item. Using a two-alternative forced choice task, Experiment 1 found a robust preference for arrangements with the more attractive consumer item on the left side rather than the right side of a pair. Experiment 2 reversed the judgement decision, with participants asked to choose the arrangement they least preferred, and a bias for arrangements with the more attractive item on the right side emerged. Experiment 3 failed to find an effect of the ‘attractive left’ preference on participants’ purchasing intentions. The preference for attractive left arrangements has implications for the display of consumer products and for the aesthetic arrangement of objects in general. The findings are discussed in relation to hemispheric asymmetries in processing and the role of left to right scanning.
    • A leftward perceptual asymmetry when judging the attractiveness of visual patterns

      Rodway, Paul; Schepman, Astrid; Crossley, Becky; Lee, Jennifer; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-04-15)
      Perceptual judgements concerning the magnitude of a stimulus feature are typically influenced more by the left side of the stimulus than by the right side. This research examined whether the leftward bias also applies to judgements of the attractiveness of abstract visual patterns. Across four experiments participants chose between two versions of a stimulus which either had an attractive left side or an attractive right side. Experiments 1 and 2 presented artworks and experiments 3 and 4 presented wallpaper designs. In each experiment participants showed a significant bias to choose the stimulus with an attractive left side more than the stimulus with an attractive right side. The leftward bias emerged at age 10/11, was not caused by a systematic asymmetry in the perception of colourfulness or complexity, and was stronger when the difference in attractiveness between the left and right sides was larger. The results are relevant to the aesthetics of product and packaging design and show that leftward biases extend to the perceptual judgement of everyday items. Possible causes of the leftward bias for attractiveness judgements are discussed and it is suggested that the size of the bias may not be a measure of the degree of hemispheric specialisation.
    • Limb preference and personality in donkeys (Equus asinus)

      Diaz, Sergio; Murray, Lindsay Elaine; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester; Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
      Interhemispheric laterality has often been linked to different behavioural styles. This study investigates the link between limb preference and personality in donkeys. The sample consisted of 47 donkeys (Equus asinus), 30 males and 17 females. Limb preference was determined using observation of the leading limb in a motionless posture and personality was measured using the Donkey Temperament Questionnaire (French, J. M. (1993). Assessment of donkey temperament and the influence of home environment. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 36(2), 249–257. doi:10.1016/0168-1591(93)90014-G) completed by the donkeys’ keepers. A Principal Component Analysis obtained two components: Agreeableness and Extraversion. Age showed a positive relationship with Agreeableness, echoing trends in humans Donkeys did not show a population-level preference towards either side. Limb preference significantly predicted the trait difficult to handle: donkeys with a preference to keep the right foot forward when motionless were harder to handle. This study presents the first investigation into limb preference and personality in donkeys, although more research is needed to clarify whether there is a population-level limb preference bias in donkeys, and the relationship between limb preference and Agreeableness.
    • Looking behaviour and preference for artworks: The role of emotional valence and location

      Kreplin, Ute; Thoma, Volker; Rodway, Paul; Liverpool John Moores University; University of East London; University of Chester; Oxford University (Elsevier, 2014-09-07)
      The position of an item influences its evaluation, with research consistently finding that items occupying central locations are preferred and have a higher subjective value. The current study investigated whether this centre-stage effect (CSE) is a result of bottom-up gaze allocation to the central item, and whether it is affected by item valence. Participants (n=50) were presented with three images of artistic paintings in a row and asked to choose the image they preferred. Eye movements were recorded for a subset of participants (n=22). On each trial the three artworks were either similar but different, or were identical and with positive valence, or were identical and with negative valence. The results showed a centre-stage effect, with artworks in the centre of the row preferred, but only when they were identical and of positive valence. Significantly greater gaze allocation to the central and left artwork was not mirrored by equivalent increases in preference choices. Regression analyses showed that when the artworks were positive and identical the participants’ last fixation predicted preference for the central art-work, whereas the fixation duration predicted preference if the images were different. Overall the result showed that item valence, rather than level of gaze allocation, influences the CSE, which is incompatible with the bottom-up gaze explanation. We propose that the centre stage heuristic, which specifies that the best items are in the middle, is able to explain these findings and the centre-stage effect.
    • Reachability does not explain the middle preference: a comment on Bar-Hillel (2015)

      Rodway, Paul; Schepman, Astrid; Thoma, Volker; University of Chester; University of Chester; University of East London (Sage, 2016-03-28)
      Choosing an object from an array of similar objects is a task that people complete frequently throughout their lives (e.g. choosing a can of soup from many cans of soup). Research has also demonstrated that items in the middle of an array or scene are looked at more often and are more likely to be chosen. This middle preference is surprisingly robust and widespread, having been found in a wide range of perceptual-motor tasks. In a recent review of the literature Bar-Hillel (2015) proposes, among other things, that the middle preference is largely explained by the middle item being easier to reach, either physically or mentally. We specifically evaluate Bar-Hillel’s reachability explanation for choice in non-interactive situations in light of evidence showing an effect of item valence on such choices. This leads us to conclude that the center-stage heuristic account is a more plausible explanation of the middle preference.
    • Right-ear precedence and vocal emotion contagion: The role of the left hemisphere

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; Cornmell, Louise; Smith, Bethany; Lauren de Sa, Sabrina; Borwick, Ciara; Belfon-Thompson, Elisha; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-08-02)
      Much evidence suggests that the processing of emotions is lateralized to the right hemisphere of the brain. However, under some circumstances the left hemisphere might play a role, particularly for positive emotions and emotional experiences. We explored whether emotion contagion was right-lateralized, lateralized valence-specifically, or potentially left-lateralized. In two experiments, right-handed female listeners rated to what extent emotionally intoned pseudo-sentences evoked target emotions in them. These sound stimuli had a 7 ms ear lead in the left or right channel, leading to stronger stimulation of the contralateral hemisphere. In both experiments, the results revealed that right ear lead stimuli received subtly but significantly higher evocation scores, suggesting a left hemisphere dominance for emotion contagion. A control experiment using an emotion identification task showed no effect of ear lead. The findings are discussed in relation to prior findings that have linked the processing of emotional prosody to left-hemisphere brain regions that regulate emotions, control orofacial musculature, are involved in affective empathy processing areas, or have an affinity for processing emotions socially. Future work is needed to eliminate alternative interpretations and understand the mechanisms involved. Our novel binaural asynchrony method may be useful in future work in auditory laterality.
    • Right-lateralized unconscious, but not conscious, processing of affective environmental sounds

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; Pritchard, Hayley; Department of Psychology, University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2015-10-29)
      Much research on the laterality of affective auditory stimuli features emotional speech. However, environmental sounds can also carry affective information, but their lateralized processing for affect has been studied much less. We studied this in 2 experiments. In Experiment 1 we explored whether the detection of affective environmental sounds (from International Affective Digital Sounds) that appeared in auditory scenes was lateralized. While we found that negative targets were detected more rapidly, detection latencies were the same on the left and right. In Experiment 2 we examined whether conscious appraisal of the stimulus was needed for lateralization patterns to emerge, and asked participants to rate the stimuli's pleasantness in a dichotic listening test. This showed that when positive/negative environmental sounds were in the attended to-be-rated channel, ratings were the same regardless of laterality. However, when participants rated neutral stimuli and the unattended channel was positive/negative, the valence of the unattended channel affected the neutral ratings more strongly with left ear (right hemisphere, RH) processing of the affective sound. We link our findings to previous work that suggests that the RH may specialize in the unconscious processing of emotion via subcortical routes.
    • Shared liking and association valence for representational art but not abstract art

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; Pullen, Sarah J.; Kirkham, Julie A.; University of Chester (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), 2015-04)
      We examined the finding that aesthetic evaluations are more similar across observers for representational images than for abstract images. It has been proposed that a difference in convergence of observers' tastes is due to differing levels of shared semantic associations (Vessel & Rubin, 2010). In Experiment 1, student participants rated 20 representational and 20 abstract artworks. We found that their judgments were more similar for representational than abstract artworks. In Experiment 2, we replicated this finding, and also found that valence ratings given to associations and meanings provided in response to the artworks converged more across observers for representational than for abstract art. Our empirical work provides insight into processes that may underlie the observation that taste for representational art is shared across individual observers, while taste for abstract art is more idiosyncratic.
    • Shared meaning in children’s evaluations of art: A computational analysis

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; Kirkham, Julie A.; Lambert, Jordana; Locke, Anastasia; University of Chester (American Psychological Association, 2018-11-31)
      Art appreciation is often considered highly individual, but research has shown that there is also a shared element, which may be due to shared meanings and associations triggered by artworks. In the current analysis, we examined semantically based justifications given to aesthetic evaluations of abstract and representational artworks provided by 80 primary schoolchildren, aged 4, 5, 8, and 10 years. Using a computational semantic similarity analysis technique (UMBC Ebiquity), the authors found that children showed evidence for shared meaning in response to representational but not abstract art. The effect was present from age 4 through to age 10. In addition, it was found that the presence of semantic elements in the justifications boosted aesthetic appreciation, especially of abstract artworks. This suggests that individually constructed meaning is key to aesthetic appreciation and is, to an extent, independent from the meaning that might be assumed to be inherent in artworks, particularly if it is representational. The authors evaluate their findings in relation to aesthetic and developmental theories and make suggestions for future research. They argue that the current data, alongside calibrating analyses that apply their randomization and semantic analysis protocol to children’s picture naming responses, further demonstrate the robustness of the computational semantic similarity analysis method, with great potential for further studies in semantic interpretation of art or other types of stimuli.
    • Shared meaning in representational and abstract visual art: an empirical study

      Schepman, Astrid; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester (American Psychological Association, 2019-09-12)
      A longstanding and important question is how meaning is generated by visual art. One view is that abstract art uses a universal language whereas representational art is tied to specific knowledge. This view predicts that meaning for abstract is shared across viewers to a greater extent than for representational art. This contrasts with a view of greater shared meaning for representational than abstract art, because of shared associations for the entities depicted in representational art, as supported by recent empirical findings. This study examined the contrasting predictions derived from these two views. 49 nonexpert adult participants wrote brief descriptions of meanings that they attributed to 20 abstract and 20 representational artworks, generating a corpus of 1918 texts. Computational analyses (semantic textual similarity, latent semantic analysis) and linguistic analysis (type-token ratio) provided triangulated quantitative data. Frequentist and Bayesian statistical analyses showed that meanings were shared to a somewhat greater extent for representational art, but that meanings for abstract artworks were also shared above baseline. Triangulated human and machine analyses of the texts showed core shared meanings for both art types, derived from literal and metaphoric interpretations of visual elements. The findings support the view that representational art elicits higher levels of shared meaning than abstract art. The empirical findings can be used to enhance theoretical and computational models of aesthetic evaluation, and the rigorous new methodologies developed can be deployed in many other contexts.
    • Social network analysis of a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) group in captivity following the integration of a new adult member

      Diaz, Sergio; Murray, Lindsay Elaine; Roberts, Sam; Rodway, Paul; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University
      Management of primates in captivity often presents the challenge of introducing new individuals into a group, and research investigating the stability of the social network in the medium-term after the introduction can help inform management decisions. We investigated the behavior of a group of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) housed at Chester Zoo, UK over 12 months (divided into three periods of four months) following the introduction of a new adult female. We recorded grooming, proximity, other affiliative behaviors and agonistic behaviors and used Social Network Analysis to investigate the stability, reciprocity and structure of the group, to examine the effect of rearing history on grooming network position and the role of sex in agonistic behavior. Both the grooming and agonistic networks correlated across all three periods, while affiliative networks correlated only between periods two and three. Males had significantly higher out-degree centrality in agonistic behaviors than females, indicating that they carried out agonistic behaviors more often than females. There was no significant difference in centrality between hand-reared and mother-reared chimpanzees. Overall, the group structure was stable and cohesive during the first year after the introduction of the new female, suggesting that this change did not destabilize the group. Our findings highlight the utility of Social Network Analysis in the study of primate sociality in captivity, and how it can be used to better understand primate behavior following the integration of new individuals.