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Nathan Tenhundfeld, Jessica Witt; Informed perception: Catching ability changes perceived size of ball . Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):403. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.10.403.
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Action-specific perception research aims to understand the role that performance plays in what we see. Softball players that are hitting better than others see the ball as larger (Witt & Proffitt, 2005). The current study aims to further understand the role that difficulty and performance have on perception. Participants were shown a squash ball and a can (either a squash ball can, or a larger racquetball can) that they would use to catch the ball. They completed 10 practice trials for which they were asked to classify various-sized circles on a computer monitor, ranging from 3.18cm to 4.45cm in size, as being bigger or smaller than the ball. Participants were then rolled the ball 3 times randomly, to the left, right, and center, for a total of 9 trials. After this catching task, they were asked to make binary classifications again. The entire process was repeated with the other cup. Data were analyzed for participants who more successfully caught the ball with the larger than the smaller cup (n=30). The Point of Subjective Equality (PSE) was calculated for each participant. A paired samples t-test indicated a significant difference between PSEs for the small and large can conditions t(29)=2.51, p=.02. When catching with the small can, the ball appeared smaller (M=3.80 cm, SD=.23) than with the big can (M=3.88 cm, SD=.19). Surprisingly, while there was a significant effect for women (n=19) t(18)=2.94, p=.01, there was not a significant effect for men (n=11) t(10)=.19, p>.05. These results provide further support for the idea that one's ability to act in their environment affects what they see, and illustrate an opportunity for further research into gender differences in perception.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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