Exaggerating temporal differences enhances recognition of individuals from point light displays

Psychol Sci. 2000 May;11(3):223-8. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00245.


Humans are very good at perceiving each other's movements. In this article, we investigate the role of time-based information in the recognition of individuals from point light biological motion sequences. We report an experiment in which we used an exaggeration technique that changes temporal properties while keeping spatial information constant; differences in the durations of motion segments are exaggerated relative to average values. Participants first learned to recognize six individuals on the basis of a simple, unexaggerated arm movement. Subsequently, they recognized positively exaggerated versions of those movements better than the originals. Absolute duration did not appear to be the critical cue. The results show that time-based cues are used for the recognition of movements and that exaggerating temporal differences improves performance. The results suggest that exaggeration may reflect general principles of how diagnostic information is encoded for recognition in different domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Male
  • Motion Perception*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Distortion
  • Time Perception*