I before U: Temporal order judgements reveal bias for self-owned objects

Merryn Constable, Timothy Welsh, Greg Huffman, Jay Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


A multitude of studies demonstrate that self-relevant stimuli influence attention. Self-owned objects are a special class of self-relevant stimuli. If a self-owned object can indeed be characterised as a self-relevant stimulus then, consistent with theoretical predictions, a behavioural effect of ownership on attention should be present. To test this prediction, a task was selected that is known to be particularly sensitive measure of the prioritisation of visual information: the temporal order judgement. Participants completed temporal order judgements with pictures of “own” and “experimenter” owned objects (mugs) presented on either side of a central fixation cross. There was a variable onset delay between each picture, ranging between 0 ms and 105 ms, and participants were asked to indicate which mug appeared first. The results indicated a reliable change in the point of subjective simultaneity (PSS) in favour of their own mug. Such a change in the PSS was not observed for two groups of participants who were exposed to a mug but did not keep the mug. A further experiment indicated that the source of the bias in PSS was more consistent with a criterion shift or top-down attentional prioritisation rather than a perceptual bias. These findings suggest that ownership, beyond mere-touch, mere-choice, or familiarity, leads to prioritised processing and responses, but the mechanism underlying the effect is not likely to be perceptual in nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date12 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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