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Perceptual discrimination difficulty and familiarity in the Uncanny Valley: more like a "Happy Valley"


Cheetham, Marcus; Suter, Pascal; Jäncke, Lutz (2014). Perceptual discrimination difficulty and familiarity in the Uncanny Valley: more like a "Happy Valley". Frontiers in Psychology:5:1219.

Abstract

The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis (UVH) predicts that greater difficulty perceptually discriminating between categorically ambiguous human and humanlike characters (e.g., highly realistic robot) evokes negatively valenced (i.e., uncanny) affect. An ABX perceptual discrimination task and signal detection analysis was used to examine the profile of perceptual discrimination (PD) difficulty along the UVH' dimension of human likeness (DHL). This was represented using avatar-to-human morph continua. Rejecting the implicitly assumed profile of PD difficulty underlying the UVH' prediction, Experiment 1 showed that PD difficulty was reduced for categorically ambiguous faces but, notably, enhanced for human faces. Rejecting the UVH' predicted relationship between PD difficulty and negative affect (assessed in terms of the UVH' familiarity dimension), Experiment 2 demonstrated that greater PD difficulty correlates with more positively valenced affect. Critically, this effect was strongest for the ambiguous faces, suggesting a correlative relationship between PD difficulty and feelings of familiarity more consistent with the metaphor happy valley. This relationship is also consistent with a fluency amplification instead of the hitherto proposed hedonic fluency account of affect along the DHL. Experiment 3 found no evidence that the asymmetry in the profile of PD along the DHL is attributable to a differential processing bias (cf. other-race effect), i.e., processing avatars at a category level but human faces at an individual level. In conclusion, the present data for static faces show clear effects that, however, strongly challenge the UVH' implicitly assumed profile of PD difficulty along the DHL and the predicted relationship between this and feelings of familiarity.

Abstract

The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis (UVH) predicts that greater difficulty perceptually discriminating between categorically ambiguous human and humanlike characters (e.g., highly realistic robot) evokes negatively valenced (i.e., uncanny) affect. An ABX perceptual discrimination task and signal detection analysis was used to examine the profile of perceptual discrimination (PD) difficulty along the UVH' dimension of human likeness (DHL). This was represented using avatar-to-human morph continua. Rejecting the implicitly assumed profile of PD difficulty underlying the UVH' prediction, Experiment 1 showed that PD difficulty was reduced for categorically ambiguous faces but, notably, enhanced for human faces. Rejecting the UVH' predicted relationship between PD difficulty and negative affect (assessed in terms of the UVH' familiarity dimension), Experiment 2 demonstrated that greater PD difficulty correlates with more positively valenced affect. Critically, this effect was strongest for the ambiguous faces, suggesting a correlative relationship between PD difficulty and feelings of familiarity more consistent with the metaphor happy valley. This relationship is also consistent with a fluency amplification instead of the hitherto proposed hedonic fluency account of affect along the DHL. Experiment 3 found no evidence that the asymmetry in the profile of PD along the DHL is attributable to a differential processing bias (cf. other-race effect), i.e., processing avatars at a category level but human faces at an individual level. In conclusion, the present data for static faces show clear effects that, however, strongly challenge the UVH' implicitly assumed profile of PD difficulty along the DHL and the predicted relationship between this and feelings of familiarity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:10 Dec 2014 14:41
Last Modified:10 Sep 2017 22:48
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01219
PubMed ID:25477829

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