Monkeys Too Are Freaked Out by Almost-Reality

Scientists have long been aware of the “uncanny valley” phenomenon, which describes “that disquieting feeling that occurs when viewers look at representations designed to be as human-like as possible — whether computer animations or androids — but somehow fall short.” This might explain why people loved The Incredibles but were disturbed by the too-real characters in the film version of The Polar Express. (Or perhaps The Incredibles was simply a better movie.) New research indicates that macaque monkeys display the same behavior, averting their glances and acting frightened when confronted with too close-to-real monkey images. (HT: Marginal Revolution) [%comments]


It's always amazing how new research keeps showing how close we are to the rest of the primate. Although, on the first read I expected this post to end with

"..averting their glances and acting frightened when confronted with The Polar Express."


Visual appearance is only a part of it. We have a fairly easy time noticing and accepting that something is a cartoon. But when a cartoon moves, it needs to behave like a cartoon, with greater exaggeration and follow-through.

The problem is that many movies, including The Polar Express, use motion-capture to animate their characters. It's the disconnect between unrealistic visuals and perfectly realistic motion that unnerves people. Pixar is one of the few companies that understands that problem, which is why they still animate by hand.

Jason S

So the movie "Terminator" could never happen because we would all recognize them as "that guy everyone feels really weird around."
Either that or we would shot all the socially awkward people in addition to the robots....oops.


Reminds me of the "Succession" episode of 30 Rock. Can't wait to get the book!


Maybe this is an outdated defence mechanism to keep us away from people with deformities and disease. Could it also explain that involuntary racism some people seem to suffer from?