Influence of body posture on visual perception – Experiment in binocular rivalry paradigm

Invited talk by Paweł Motyka, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Psychology.

Binocular rivalry is a spectacular example of multistable perception which occurs when different stimuli are presented separately to each eye. In result the conscious percept continuously alternates from one image to another. Recent studies based on this procedure report the influence of other modalities like audition, olfaction and touch on visual consciousness (crossmodal congruency effect – CCE). The aim of the experiment was to investigate the putative crossmodal linkage between dominant or submissive body posture – which can be interpreted as a special modus of proprioception schema – and time of perceiving ambiguous images and words. However, some findings from social psychology showed that people were adopting complementary (dominant vs. submissive) postures during interaction, what makes contradictory hypothesis about incongruence also reasonable.

To verify the hypothesis, procedure proposed by Tiedens and Fragale (2003) has been used. Participants were placed in a dominant (expanded) or submissive (constricted) posture and were naïve about the manipulation. They were observing ambiguous images presenting people in dominant and submissive postures and words connected with the concept of dominance and submission. Final results showed that body posture changes visual perception of images and congruency effect has been demonstrated here. There were also tendency, although not statistically significant, for words. Additionally, complex findings about interactions between strength of CCE, dynamics of alternations and personality traits were analyzed. The experiment shows that phenomenological method of binocular rivalry can be applicated in a broader range of psychological domains.