Alan Costall

Alan Costall
University of Portsmouth · Department of Psychology

About

134
Publications
47,241
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4,580
Citations
Citations since 2016
21 Research Items
2412 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (134)
Article
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Frederic Bartlett's schema theory is still widely misunderstood as claiming that remembering is inevitably unreliable. However, according to the logic of his schema theory, remembering should, in relation to certain kinds of material, be relatively reliable. In this study we examined whether a "well-worn" urban myth (the Vanishing Hitchhiker) could...
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The study of the emergence of pretend play in developmental psychology has generally been restricted to analyses of children’s play with toys and everyday objects. The widely accepted criteria for establishing pretence are the child’s manipulation of object identities, attributes or existence. In this paper we argue that there is another arena for...
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Gibson once suggested that his ecological approach could provide architecture and design with a new theoretical basis. Erik Rietveld takes up this suggestion—the concept of affordances figures prominently not only in his philosophical and scientific work but also in the design practices he is engaged in. However, as Gibson introduced affordances as...
Article
Linguistic relativists have traditionally asked 'how language influences thought', but conversation analysts and anthropological linguists have moved the focus from thought to social action. We argue that 'social action' should in this context not become simply a new dependent variable, because the formulation 'does language influence action' sugge...
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Linguistic relativists have traditionally asked 'how language influences thought', but conversation analysts and anthropological linguists have moved the focus from thought to social action. We argue that 'social action' should in this context not become simply a new dependent variable, because the formulation 'does language influence action' sugge...
Article
Children's relations to objects are often seen as operating in a physical, asocial, realm distinct from the sociocultural realm of other people. The most influential theories of autism exemplify this assumption, emphasising problems in relating to other people alongside relatively intact dealings with objects. This paper challenges the notion of a...
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The leaning tower illusion is a perceptual illusion in which two identical images of a tower photographed from below appear to diverge when juxtaposed. We manipulated the perceived obliqueness of the (upright) St Mark bell tower in Venice by modifying two parameters both related to the position of the camera with respect to the tower: (a) increasin...
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Background: The majority of people with dementia are cared for by their families at home. This study aimed to elicit family carers' perceptions on home environmental aspects and strategies with the view to identify barriers and facilitators when caring for a person with dementia at home. Design and methods: Thirteen co-resident family carers were e...
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This editorial presents the second of a 2-part special issue honoring the publication of James J. Gibson's 1966 book, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. As was pointed out by several reviews of this book written just after its publication (i.e., between 1967 and 1969), Gibson's 1966 book represents a revolution not only for the psychologi...
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The “later” James Gibson is widely misrepresented as an extreme stimulus–response theorist. In fact, Gibson's 1966 book presents a radical alternative to stimulus–response theory. “Perceptual systems” are not passive and receptive but “organs of active attention” (1966/1968, p. 58). Perceivers “reach out” into the world. This commentary examines so...
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This editorial introduces the first part of a 2-part special issue of Ecological Psychology dedicated to James J. Gibson's 1966 book, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, which presents many revolutionary ideas that are important not only for the study of perception but also for the science of psychology in general including the rejection o...
Article
The home remains the preferred site for ageing and care provision, yet its role and meaning for caregivers remains under-studied. Thirteen co-resident family caregivers of people with dementia were interviewed about the personal meaning of their home environment. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. The findin...
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In the present study we observed whether infants show online adjustments to the mother’s incipient action by looking at their sensitivity to changes as the pick-up unfolded. Twenty-three 3-month-old infants and their mothers were observed in the lab, where mothers were instructed (1) to pick-up their infants as they usually did (normal pick-up), an...
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This study explored the process of taking a personal approach to my son's problems with computer games. As a psychology student, I should have been in a good position to explore the paradoxical emotions and this situation of conflict. Yet I was also aware that relating closely to the people we are studying has long been a taboo even in qualitative...
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The “meme” concept is usually attributed to Dawkins. It does, however, have a much longer history, predating the acceptance of the “gene” concept in early twentieth century biology. This chapter traces the history of the “meme” meme and explores the role of intentionality —or its exclusion—in the analogies drawn between biological and cultural evol...
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We examine how the textbooks have dealt with one of psychology's most eminent dissidents, James Gibson (1904-1979). Our review of more than a hundred textbooks, dating from the 1950s to the present, reveals fundamental and systematic misrepresentations of Gibson. Although Gibson continues to figure in most of the textbooks, his work is routinely as...
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This study explores the emergence of triadic interactions through the example of book sharing. As part of a naturalistic study, 10 infants were visited in their homes from 3-12 months. We report that (1) book sharing as a form of infant-caregiver-object interaction occurred from as early as 3 months. Using qualitative video analysis at a micro-leve...
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Previous research has used both natural and simulated interactions to investigate the functions of infant-directed speech (IDS), but the effect of these approaches on the results of such studies is unclear. The aim of this study was to compare F(0) contours of natural and simulated speech directed to three distinct speech recipient groups to invest...
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Play has proved to have a central role in children's development, most notably in rule learning (Piaget, 1965; Sutton-Smith, 1979) and negotiation of roles and goals (Garvey, 1974; Bruner et al., 1976). Yet very little research has been done on early play. The present study focuses on early social games, i.e., vocal-kinetic play routines that mothe...
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In this response we address additions to as well as criticisms and possible misinterpretations of our proposal for a second-person neuroscience. We map out the most crucial aspects of our approach by (1) acknowledging that second-person engaged interaction is not the only way to understand others, although we claim that it is ontogenetically prior;...
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In spite of the remarkable progress made in the burgeoning field of social neuroscience, the neural mechanisms that underlie social encounters are only beginning to be studied and could - paradoxically - be seen as representing the "dark matter" of social neuroscience. Recent conceptual and empirical developments consistently indicate the need for...
Article
Full-text available
In this response we address additions to as well as criticisms and possible misinterpretations of our proposal for a second-person neuroscience. We map out the most crucial aspects of our approach by (1) acknowledging that second-person engaged interaction is not the only way to understand others, although we claim that it is ontogenetically prior;...
Chapter
Many of the conceptual confusions fundamental to modern cognitivist theory had already been identified and widely recognized before the ‘cognitive revolution’ of the 1960s. Yet, whenever such confusions are pointed out, they are either fleetingly acknowledged, only to be quickly forgotten, or, more usually, emphatically denied. And, as I have found...
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James Gibson's concept of affordances was an attempt to undermine the traditional dualism of the objective and subjective. Gibson himself insisted on the continuity of "affordances in general" and those attached to human artifacts. However, a crucial distinction needs to be drawn between "affordances in general" and the "canonical affordances" that...
Article
The Internet has rarely been used in auditory perception studies due to concerns about standardisation and calibration across different systems and settings. However, not all auditory research is based on the investigation of fine-grained differences in auditory thresholds. Where meaningful ‘real-world’ listening, for instance the perception of spe...
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Research on engagement within community-based psychiatric services in the UK has mainly focussed on factors related to those 'at risk' of non-attendance or non-compliance, with the tacit assumption that those in regular attendance are largely content and hence not a priority. The present study systematically explored the experiences and views of 25...
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Recently, dynamical systems theory has become popular in describing visual control of locomotion. Nevertheless, traditional geometric cues (e.g., egocentric directions of current heading and target) are still often used (Land & Lee, 1994; Rushton & Salvucci, 2001). Even some of the Gibsonians seem to have accepted the need for using egocentric targ...
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Standardised sentence production is routinely used in speech research to avoid content variability typical of natural speech production. However, the validity of such standardised material is not well understood. Here, we evaluated the use of standardised sentences by comparing them to two existing, non-standardised datasets of simulated free and n...
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Positioning analysis, a variant of discourse analysis, was used to explore the narratives of 40 psychiatric patients (11 females and 29 males; mean age = 40 years) who had manifest difficulties with engagement with statutory mental health services. Positioning analysis is a qualitative method that captures how people linguistically position the rol...
Chapter
Introduction: Against 'Theory of Mind' I.Leudar & A.Costall PART I: THEORY AND HISTORY On Historical Antecedents of 'Theory of Mind' I.Leudar & A.Costall Theory of Mind: The Madness Behind the Method A.Costall & I.Leudar 'ToM': A Critical Commentary Continued W.Sharrock & J.Coulter PART II: APPLICATIONS Participants Don't Need Theories: Knowing Min...
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Previous research has used simulated interactions to investigate emotional and linguistic speech phenomena. Here, we evaluate the use of these simulated interactions by comparing speech addressed to imaginary speech partners produced by psychology students and actresses, to an existing study of natural speech addressed to genuine interaction partne...
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Low-pass filtering has been used in emotional research to remove the semantic content from speech on the assumption that the relevant acoustic cues for vocal affect remain intact. This method has also been adapted by recent investigations into the function of infant-directed speech (IDS). Similar to other emotion-related studies that have utilised...
Chapter
Research on ‘Theory of Mind’ has proliferated since the 1980s, and there are now many different theories of ‘Theory of Mind’. Indeed, the name for this field of research derives from a specific theory which has now to be awkwardly referred to as the ‘Theory Theory of Mind’. According to ‘Theory Theory’, all of us (psychologists and non-psychologist...
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In this chapter we discuss the historical origins and conceptual debts of the theory of mind paradigm (ToMism).1 We argue that this paradigm should be thought of as a model of communication. We find that ToMism has roots in Noam Chomsky’s psychology, and Paul Grice’s work on meaning. It is based on their ideas, inherits some of their problems but a...
Chapter
The ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM) framework has been associated with one of the fastest growing bodies of empirical research in psychology over the last 30 years, and has also given rise to a range of different theoretical positions and elaborations within those positions. However, the approach has remained unusually self-enclosed, avoiding any sustained...
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Typically, the research on the connotations of colors has presented isolated color samples to the participants, and/or restricted their responses to a limited set of alternatives (e.g., basic emotions). In the present study, the participants were asked to imagine their own examples of the target colors, thereby allowing the participants to select t...
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In its supposed revolutionary move beyond "mechanistic behaviourism", modem psychology replaced the image of the passive subject with that of a highly active information processor modelled upon the general purpose computer. But such activity has been envisaged as essentially subcutaneous. For, in addition to the explicit and modem metaphor of the m...
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The present study investigated the vocal communication of naturally occurring smiles. Verbal variation was controlled in the speech of 8 speakers by asking them to repeat the same sentence in response to a set sequence of 17 questions, intended to provoke reactions such as amusement, mild embarrassment, or just a neutral response. After coding for...
Chapter
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IntroductionThe “Early Gibson”The “Later Gibson”Implications for Research and Theory in Infancy
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Theories of communication often assume that communication has a single, essential form or telos, the culmination of a one-track developmental process where precursors eventually give rise to the real thing. At one time, this essence of communication was identified with linguistic competence, whereas now it is largely defined in terms of "Theory of...
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According to the majority of the textbooks, the history of modern, scientific psychology can be tidily encapsulated in the following three stages. Scientific psychology began with a commitment to the study of mind, but based on the method of introspection. Watson rejected introspectionism as both unreliable and effete, and redefined psychology, ins...
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We are puzzled by Szilvia Papp's response to the recent Special Issue of Theory & Psychology devoted to critiques of and alternatives to Theory of Mind. Although Papp is a linguist with a special interest not only in Theory of Mind but also in ‘Relevance Theory’, we can find no reference in her response to the critical issues raised in the Special...
Chapter
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The world can be analyzed at many levels, from atomic through terrestrial to cosmic. There is physical structure on the scale of millimicrons at one extreme and on the scale of light years at another. But surely the appropriate scale for animals is the intermediate one of millimeters to kilometers, and it is appropriate because the world and the an...
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A semi-structured interview study, investigating the acquisition of everyday object use in children with autism and developmentally matched controls, is presented. Parents were asked to describe how their child currently used various everyday objects during mealtime and washing routines, the process by which this came about, and any problems encoun...
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The present study employed the "parental misinformation" paradigm to examine whether individuals report false events from their childhood even when they are interviewed in an appropriate manner by a trained interviewer. Each participant was interviewed on three occasions. By the final interview, one participant produced a "full" report, and six par...
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A comparative developmental framework was used to determine whether mutual gaze is unique to humans and, if not, whether common mechanisms support the development of mutual gaze in chimpanzees and humans. Mother-infant chimpanzees engaged in approximately 17 instances of mutual gaze per hour. Mutual gaze occurred in positive, nonagonistic contexts....
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Despite decades of research, the role of gaze in car driving is still poorly understood, but racing simulators provide a suitable experimental platform to examine drivers' gaze patterns across driving tasks of increasing complexity, including driving at high speeds. In this article, we report the findings of our baseline study: gaze as a function o...
Article
In our previous research, we found that drivers when engaged in straight-road driving, and also braking, tend to look in the direction of their intended movement regardless of speed or expertise (Rogers, Kadar, & Costall, this issue). Furthermore, gaze direction is highly constrained in braking, suggesting that speed control might be based on globa...
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The ‘Theory of Mind’ approach has been associated with probably the fastest-growing body of empirical research in psychology over the last 25 years, and has given rise to a range of different theoretical positions and elaborations within those positions. The basic idea is that understanding other people involves bridging a gulf between observed ‘be...
Article
In this paper we discuss the historical origins and conceptual debts of the Theory of Mind framework (ToM). We investigate its affinities to Chomsky’s psychology, and Paul Grice’s work on meaning. We find that the ToM framework is resourced by the ideas found in Chomsky and Grice, adding very little new to them, and suffering from the same problems...
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Why did ‘Theory of Mind’ take off when it did, and what, if anything, holds this very diverse approach together? The focus of research within developmental psychology since the 1960s had been the examination of Piaget’s claims about cognitive development. The agenda had quickly become to demonstrate, primarily through experiments, that young childr...
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Modern cognitive psychology presents itself as the revolutionary alternative to behaviorism, yet there are blatant continuities between modern cognitivism and the mechanistic kind of behaviorism that cognitivists have in mind, such as their commitment to methodological behaviorism, the stimulus-response schema, and the hypothetico- deductive method...
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Accurate measurement is crucial for understanding the processes that underlie exploratory patterns in motor learning. Accordingly, measures of learning should be sensitive to the changes that take place during skill acquisition. Most studies, however, use trial-based global measures that assess performance but do not actually measure gradual change...
Article
According to much of the recent psychological literature on memory, Bartlett should be credited with the insight that remembering can never be accurate but is, instead, more or less of a distortion (a view to which many modern authors themselves seem to subscribe). In the present paper, we argue that Bartlett did not himself provide such an unquali...
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Recent research has attempted to inform the false/recovered memory debate by examining the circumstances surrounding retractors' experiences of coming to make claims that they were abused. The limited available research that is currently available has been heavily criticised on the grounds that retractors' experiences do not qualify as reliable evi...
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Research has shown that the memory characteristics questionnaire (MCQ) can be used to discriminate between ‘memories’ of perceived events and ‘memories’ of imagined events. The present study extended this research by examining the utility of the MCQ in distinguishing impossible memories (i.e., reports of an event a person could not have witnessed)....
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The present paper examines reports by 'retractors' (i.e. adults who have retracted their earlier claims of childhood abuse) to explore suggestions in the literature of possible similarities between their experiences and the experiences of individuals who falsely confess to criminal acts. Despite concerns about the reliability of retractors' reports...
Article
A group of left- and right-handers was tested on a task requiring them to reach out and pick up an object with either the left or the right hand. We varied the eccentricity of the target object (a small glass) and the required accuracy level, by filling the glass with liquid. We recorded (a) frequency of left or right hand use, (b) hand preference...
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According to most theorists, “nonbasic” emotions such as shame, guilt, pride, and jealousy do not emerge until the 2nd year of life, despite limited evidence for this proposition. Critical examination of the major theories of emotional development reveals that this belief stems from the assumption that young infants are incapable of interpersonal a...
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Stoffregen & Bardy argue that unimodal invariants do not exist, and that only invariants are possible. But they confuse two separate issues. Amodal invariants, we argue, do indeed exist to specify features of the environment, but not even an amodal invariant, in isolation, could specify their or
Article
Research evidence indicates that children with autism may experience problems with functional play, in addition to their well-documented deficits in symbolic play. However, as a result of the tendency of previous studies to group all functional play into a single category, the precise nature and extent of this deficit remains unclear. The present s...
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The status of "anthropomorphic" descriptions of animals in terms of intentions and emotions has been generally regarded as a prescriptive methodological concern. In contrast, in the study of human social psychology the nature of psychological descriptions of other people has been approached as a substantive empirical issue. Following this lead, the...
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Drawing upon the work of Merleau-Ponty, Borrett et al. (2000) have attempted to model the primordial, "empty heads turned towards the world." Putting the issue of embodiment aside for another day, they propose two separate models, one of movement and the other of perception. While I am sympathetic to the point of their project, I argue in this comm...
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R.G. Collingwood's antagonism to scientific psychology is notorious. As a philosopher, especially an Oxford philosopher, such antagonism was hardly exceptional. Yet, in fact, Collingwood's attitude to the new science of psychology was remarkably ambivalent. He showed a keen interest in developments in the new science, regarded Freud as one of the g...
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Kanner (1943), in his classic account, described autism as a specific impairment in interpersonal relations which leaves the child's uses of objects relatively unaffected. This combination of the difficulties in relating to people and the supposedly "excellent" relations to objects figures centrally within many of the current theories of autism, wh...
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Edward Reed (1954-1997) is best known for his work commenting upon and developing James Gibson's ecological approach to psychology. The three books reviewed in this article set out what Reed termed his ecological philosophy. Encountering the World has the appearance of an introduction to ecological psychology, but makes little reference to the work...