The Detection of Unexpected Events and Implications for Event Perception
Hymel, Alicia Marie
Prediction is often discussed as an explanatory mechanism in event perception and understanding. However, previous research may have overemphasized the importance of constant conceptual prediction in event segmentation. A series of experiments investigated the degree to which individuals use such moment-to-moment predictions in real time. Participants viewed videos containing events that either did or did not contain an out-of-order action. Participants were unable to consistently detect the misordered events, and performance on the task decreased when performing a secondary task. Performance increased when videos ended immediately after the misordering, indicating that the use of conceptual predictions is not automatic and may be hindered by an inability to use effortful strategies. Incidental detection of misordered actions was quite infrequent, further casting doubt upon the use of moment-to-moment conceptual predictions in event perception. These results do not appear to be due to participants’ difficulty with understanding these videos. Our findings are discussed as they relate to theories of event perception that require the use of an on-line predictive process, such as Event Segmentation Theory.