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Attentional coordination in demonstrator-observer dyads facilitates learning and predicts performance in a novel manual task

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Observational learning is a form of social learning in which a demonstrator performs a target task in the company of an observer, who may as a consequence learn something about it. In this study, we approach social learning in terms of the dynamics of coordination rather than the more common perspective of transmission of information. We hypothesised that observers must continuously adjust their visual attention relative to the demonstrator's time-evolving behaviour to benefit from it. We eye-tracked observers repeatedly watching videos showing a demonstrator solving one of three manipulative puzzles before attempting at the task. The presence of the demonstrator's face and the availability of his verbal instruction in the videos were manipulated. We then used recurrence quantification analysis to measure the dynamics of coordination between the overt attention of the observers and the demonstrator's manipulative actions. Bayesian hierarchical logistic regression was applied to examine (1) whether the observers' performance was predicted by such indexes of coordination, (2) how performance changed as they accumulated experience, and (3) if the availability of speech and intentional gaze of the demonstrator mediated it. Results showed that learners better able to coordinate their eye movements with the manipulative actions of the demonstrator had an increasingly higher probability of success in solving the task. The availability of speech was beneficial to learning, whereas the presence of the demonstrator's face was not. We argue that focusing on the dynamics of coordination between individuals may greatly improve understanding of the cognitive processes underlying social learning.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number104314
JournalCognition
Volume201
Early online date23 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2020

    Research areas

  • Observational learning, Attentional synchronisation, Eye tracking, Recurrence quantification analysis, Bayesian regression

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