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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2015, Vol. 47 Issue (2) : 212-223     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00212
Pilots’ Dissociation of Object Properties and Motion Properties in Relative Arrival Time Tasks
YAN Bihua; YOU Xuqun
(School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi´an 710062, China)
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The Relative Arrival Time Task, in which participants are asked to judge which of the two moving objects would reach the designated target first, is largely used to assess the dynamic spatial ability. What are the impacts of object properties and motion properties of the two moving items on judgment in this relatively complex task is still unclear. This study focuses on the cognitive processing of experiential variables and visual variables, as well as the individual differences in RAT tasks. Pilot group and non-pilot group were recruited to make a compare in their processing of visuospatial object properties, motion properties and their interrelationship in RAT tasks. Three experiments were designed to extensively and sequentially examine the effects of different properties of objects on judgments. While Experiment 1 focused on the color, movement direction and velocity, Experiment 2 investigated the size and vision direction, exploring the target line which could possibly affect distance representation and spatial configuration into Experiment 3. The processing advantages of the pilot group were also considered in three expeirments, respectively. The results of Experiment 1 showed that the movement direction and velocity of two objects had effects on the judgment of RAT tasks with no such findings concerning color of object. Participants demonstrated better performance on the left-to-right tasks presented on the screen compared to the right-to-left ones, which was more salient on tasks with objects moving in large velocity. Compared to the control group, pilot group exhibited shorter response time and with better accuracy on average, which was largely reflected on the right-to-left tasks and those with small velocity, and there were no significant difference in response time between tasks in opposite direction or in contrasting velocity for pilot group. It was found in Experiment 2 that the size–speed factor affected the judgment of RAT tasks for control group, and non-pilot participants did better in tasks featured by fast-moving large objects or by small objects moving at low speed. In addition, tasks with inconsistency in directions of moving objects and visions of participants seemed more difficult for control group to complete. Processing advantages of pilots were presented in judgments on RAT tasks was not affected by size of objects and the accuracy of the judgments was unbiased despite of moving in different vision lines. Experiment 3 showed that, the judgment of pilot group was not affected by changing the features of target line while a poorer performance occurred in non-pilot group. The judgment of RAT tasks, which is a complicated process of collaborative judgments on a basis of multiple representations of objects, is affected by the two objects’ size, velocity, direction of movement, direction of vision and features of target. However, pilots are able to accurately process such information as relative speed, relative distance, relative time and movement direction in a changing space, dissociating the functions of object size and background in motion judgments. Therefore, it suggests that pilots have a higher field-independent cognitive trait and dynamic spatial processing capabilities.

Keywords Relative Arrival Time Task      object properties      motion properties      dynamic spatial ability     
Corresponding Authors: YOU Xuqun, E-mail:; YAN Bihua, E-mail:   
Issue Date: 25 February 2015
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YAN Bihua; YOU Xuqun. Pilots’ Dissociation of Object Properties and Motion Properties in Relative Arrival Time Tasks[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015, 47(2): 212-223.
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