The Influence of Sequence Reversal on Event Perception
Many theories in event perception suggest that the information about the temporal organization of events plays an important role in facilitating the comprehension of event content. Although a previous study conducted by Hymel et al. (2016) showed that most people were not aware of the presence of misordered events while viewing live-action videos of everyday activities, the current study aimed to use more sensitive measures, such as event memory and event segmentation, to reveal the impact created by sequence reversal on the perception and representation of events. In the experiments reported here, we discovered that viewers did not encode more visual details when the misordered event happened. The presence of reversals impaired viewers’ ability to remember the location of the current event in the general event sequence, but this effect disappeared when viewers engaged in an event segmentation task and detected reversals incidentally. In addition, the existence of event misorderings did not increase the number of event boundaries experienced by the viewers. These results reinforce the idea that viewers do not engage in moment-to-moment examination of event sequence as a default process. We argue that even though there is evidence that the reversal exerts an influence on viewers’ lower-level processing, reversals are rarely brought into conscious awareness and minimally impact viewers’ mental representation of events, especially when there is no task-specific demand to focus on event sequence.