Changing Visual Perspective Changes Processing Style: A Distinct Pathway by Which Imagery Guides Cognition

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Action images can be depicted either from the actor’s first-person or an observer’s third-person visual perspective. This research demonstrates that visual perspective of action imagery influences the extent to which people process actions abstractly. Two experiments presented photographs of everyday actions, manipulating their visual perspective (first-person vs. third-person), holding constant the scope and objects depicted. Subsequently, participants interpreted actions unrelated to the images. Across both experiments, viewing third-person (vs. first-person) photographs caused participants to construe the unrelated actions more abstractly. This carryover effect demonstrates a shift in processing style, sheds light on an underlying mechanism of perspective effects, and suggests that imagery is a more versatile cognitive tool than traditionally assumed.

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