The term representational momentum has been used to describe a forward displacement of the final position of a moving target and also as an explanatory mechanism for that forward displacement. Landmark attraction effect refers to the remembered orientation of a target shifted towards the orientation of a surrounding context object. Previous studies on moving targets and landmarks have been limited to the effects of physical properties, such as the size of the stimulus, or the speed of movement, on the displacement of another object. The present study focused on the effects of the situational significance, the relative relationship between the moving target and the relevant landmark, the movement directions of the target and the presentation time of the landmarks on the judgment of the moving target position.
The inducing movement paradigm was adopted to investigate the representational momentum effect in the flight scene, in which the airplane target and the landmarks were designed as simple line-drawing images. The stationary airstrip and the mountain were classified as safe landmarks and dangerous landmarks, respectively, forming a causal relationship with the aircraft target, which together constituted a specific aircraft movement scene. Four experiments were designed to compare the effects of different landmarks. Experiments 1a and 1b focused on the relationship between the aircraft and the safe landmark or dangerous landmark and the movement direction of the aircraft on the representational momentum, while the landmark remained visible in the induction duration. Experiments 2a and 2b addressed the same variable relationship as in Experiments 1a and 1b except that the landmark was shown during the retention interval.
The findings of the four experiments were as follows. First, significant forward distortions were observed under all conditions with the exception of leftward- toward the dangerous landmark motion, indicating that the representational momentum effect was universal in the flight scene. Second, forward displacement was influenced by target approaches and was larger when targets moved toward the safe landmark than when moving away from the same landmark. In addition, it was also larger when targets moved away from the dangerous landmark than when they moved toward it. The representational momentum of the approaching safe landmark was larger than that of the dangerous landmark, and the momentum of moving away from the safe landmark was smaller than that of the dangerous landmark. In this way, the safe landmark showed landmark an attraction effect, and the dangerous landmark showed a repulsion effect. Third, the direction of movement of the aircraft had no significant effect on the representational momentum, and the representational momentum increased when the safe landmark or the dangerous landmark was shown during the retention interval, demonstrating the effect of the scenario on the directional effect and attention effect of the momentum.
In conclusion, the results of this study suggested that the landmark effect of the representational momentum was influenced by the relevant features of the landmark, which was measured by the causality and the situational significance between the target and the landmark. The memory of the location of the moving object will shift along the direction of the object’s movement, indicating that the momentum effect is difficult to eliminate. However, when there are other related objects (landmarks) in the scene, the nature and the importance of the object has an impact on people’s judgment.
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