Event structure in perception and conception

Psychol Bull. 2001 Jan;127(1):3-21. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.1.3.


Events can be understood in terms of their temporal structure. The authors first draw on several bodies of research to construct an analysis of how people use event structure in perception, understanding, planning, and action. Philosophy provides a grounding for the basic units of events and actions. Perceptual psychology provides an analogy to object perception: Like objects, events belong to categories, and, like objects, events have parts. These relationships generate 2 hierarchical organizations for events: taxonomies and partonomies. Event partonomies have been studied by looking at how people segment activity as it happens. Structured representations of events can relate partonomy to goal relationships and causal structure; such representations have been shown to drive narrative comprehension, memory, and planning. Computational models provide insight into how mental representations might be organized and transformed. These different approaches to event structure converge on an explanation of how multiple sources of information interact in event perception and conception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Cognition*
  • Concept Formation / classification*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Perception*
  • Time Perception