European Conference on Visual Perception edition:37 location:Belgrade, Serbia date:24-28 August 2014
Michotte can be considered as the pioneering researcher with respect to the phenomenon of causality perception. Based on his findings, Michotte argued that human observers can directly perceive causality between objects. One basic and well known observation is the launching effect: Consider two objects A and B (e.g. circles); A starts moving towards B, stops right in front of it, and B subsequently starts moving. Most observers perceive this as an event in which A causes the movement of B. Manipulating temporal or spatial aspects of this event reduces the perception of causality. This observation led Michotte to argue that causality between objects indeed was perceived and that it acted like a fundamental Gestalt. In this study, we extend this work by testing whether a causal event is represented in the absence of awareness. Causal launch events and non-causal pass events were suppressed through continuous flash suppression and participants had to detect the direction of motion upon breakthrough of the events. Initial results indicate that launching events break suppression faster than pass events, indicating that the launching effect might still be represented while suppressed. These results are discussed in the context of whether interactions between objects are unconsciously processed.