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Dual routes of chunking social interaction: Insights from grouping two agent actions in working memory.

Humans have evolved the sophisticated ability to extract social relations embedded in interactive entities. One typical demonstration is a social chunking phenomenon wherein the cognitive system chunks individual actions into a unified episode basing on perceived interactive actions. However, the mechanisms underlying social chunking remain to be elucidated. Most studies have adopted static images and manipulated interactions through agents' facingness (face-to-face vs. back-to-back). Connecting agents via directed contingent actions is crucial in forming real-life social interaction. Hence, we employed dynamic actions as stimuli, separated physical- and communicative-contingency interactive actions, and predicted that domain-general physical regularities and domain-specific social relationships are crucial in social interactions, respectively. We tested this prediction by using an involuntary chunking effect in working memory, wherein two individual actions are involuntarily chunked when containing task-irrelevant interactive information. We found that involuntary chunking occurred for both types of upright interactive actions (Experiments 1, 3, 5, and 6). Inverting actions erased the chunking of communicative- but not physical-contingency actions (Experiments 2, 4, and 5). The facingness of dyads did not participate in chunking physical-contingency actions but was a prerequisite for chunking communicative-contingency actions (Experiments 3 and 6). These results reveal the dual routes of chunking interactive actions. Moreover, they suggest that the chunking mechanisms of dynamic social interaction are distinct from those of static images, highlighting the importance of using dynamic stimuli to explore the mechanisms of social interaction in emerging people-watching interdisciplinarity. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

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