August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Size judgments for nearby and distant objects: A test of the perceptual learning and metacognitive theories of size constancy development
Author Affiliations
  • Carl Granrud
    School of Psychological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
  • Michael Kavšek
    Institute for Psychology, University of Bonn
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 909. doi:10.1167/12.9.909
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      Carl Granrud, Michael Kavšek; Size judgments for nearby and distant objects: A test of the perceptual learning and metacognitive theories of size constancy development. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):909. doi: 10.1167/12.9.909.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

This study investigated size estimation accuracy for nearby and distant objects. Five age groups were tested: 5-6 years (n= 19), 7-8 years (n= 11), 9-10 years (n= 12), 19-28 years (n= 20), and 50+ years (n= 18). Previous studies found that before 9 years children underestimate the sizes of distant objects, whereas older children and adults tend to overestimate their sizes. According to the perceptual learning theory, young children’s underestimations result from lower sensitivity to monocular depth cues. According to the metacognitive theory, children become increasingly aware of their underconstant perceptions of distant objects after 8 years of age and begin to strategically inflate their size estimates. Participants judged the size of a standard disc (53.3, 61.0, or 68.6 cm in diameter) by pointing at one of nine comparison discs (15.2 to 76.2 cm in diameter). The standard disc was positioned at either 6.1 m or 61 m. Testing was conducted under both monocular and binocular viewing conditions. Participants were asked to explain their size-match choices and were categorized as using or not using a size-inflation strategy. Size estimation accuracy varied across age groups (p<.001). At the far distance, object size was underestimated by 5- to 8-year-old children, but was increasingly overestimated from 9 years on. Overestimation was greatest in the young adults and was less pronounced in the older adults. All age groups underestimated size at the near distance. Compared to the 5- to 8-year-olds, underestimation was reduced in the participants 9 years of age and older. Contrary to predictions from the perceptual learning theory, viewing condition had no significant effects. Consistent with the metacognitive theory, strategy use resulted in larger size estimates for distant objects. The results indicate age-related improvements in size estimation accuracy. They support the metacognitive theory but conflict with the perceptual learning theory.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012

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