Object-scene inconsistencies do not capture gaze: evidence from the flash-preview moving-window paradigm.
In the present study, we investigated the influence of object-scene relationships on eye movement control during scene viewing. We specifically tested whether an object that is inconsistent with its scene context is able to capture gaze from the visual periphery. In four experiments, we presented rendered images of naturalistic scenes and compared baseline consistent objects with semantically, syntactically, or both semantically and syntactically inconsistent objects within those scenes. To disentangle the effects of extrafoveal and foveal object-scene processing on eye movement control, we used the flash-preview moving-window paradigm: A short scene preview was followed by an object search or free viewing of the scene, during which visual input was available only via a small gaze-contingent window. This method maximized extrafoveal processing during the preview but limited scene analysis to near-foveal regions during later stages of scene viewing. Across all experiments, there was no indication of an attraction of gaze toward object-scene inconsistencies. Rather than capturing gaze, the semantic inconsistency of an object weakened contextual guidance, resulting in impeded search performance and inefficient eye movement control. We conclude that inconsistent objects do not capture gaze from an initial glimpse of a scene.