Barrett, Blythe, Todd, and Miller ant animations

Clark Barrett, Phil Blythe, Peter Todd, and Geoffrey Miller identified six action type-pairs (i.e., chasing/fleeing, courting/being-courted, fighting/fighting, invading/guarding, leading/following, and playing/playing) that they claimed were ecologically-valid, making them likely to be recognized across species and thus good candidates for studying intention perception. They created sample animations by placing touch-sensitive displays in two rooms, each with a clear “puck” showing an ant (one blue, the other red), and giving complementary instructions to the participant in each room: “Blue ant, chase red!”, “Red ant, flee blue!”

Barrett-Todd-Miller-Blythe animations

They also developed a computable model of how actions can be recognized from measurements of relative velocity, relative rotational velocity (“vorticity”), and so on that followed the Fast-and-Frugal-Heuristics approach (which is often contrasted with optimizing, computation-heavy approaches like Bayesianism).