The role of perspective in discriminating between social and non-social intentions from reach-to-grasp kinematics

Francesca Ciardo, Isabella Campanini, Andrea Merlo, Sandro Rubichi, Cristina Iani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Making correct inferences regarding social and individual intentions may be crucial for successful interactions, especially when we are required to discriminate between cooperative and competitive behaviors. The results of previous studies indicate that reach-to-grasp kinematic parameters may be used to infer the social or individual outcome of a movement. However, the majority of the studies investigated this ability by presenting reach-to-grasp movements from a third-person perspective only. The aim of the present study was to assess whether the ability to recognize the intent associated to a reach-to-grasp movement varies as a function of perspective by manipulating the perspective of observation (second- and third-perspective) within participants. To this end, we presented participants with video clips of models performing a reach-to-grasp movement with different intents. The video clips were recorded both from a lateral view (third-person perspective) and from a frontal view (second-person perspective). After viewing the clips, in two subsequent tasks participants were asked to distinguish between social and non-social intentions by observing the initial phase of the same action recorded from the two different views. Results showed that, when a fast-speed movement was presented from a lateral view, participants were able to predict its social intention. In contrast, when the same movement was observed from a frontal view, performance was impaired. These results indicate that the ability to detect social intentions from motor cues can be biased by the visual perspective of the observer, specifically for fast-speed movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-928
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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