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Christophe Lopez, Christelle Bachofner, Manuel Mercier, Olaf Blanke; Gravity and observer's body orientation influence the visual perception of human body postures. Journal of Vision 2009;9(5):1. https://doi.org/10.1167/9.5.1.
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Since human behavior and perception have evolved within the Earth's gravitational field, humans possess an internal model of gravity. Although gravity is known to influence the visual perception of moving objects, the evidence is less clear concerning the visual perception of static objects. We investigated whether a visual judgment of the stability of human body postures (static postures of a human standing on a platform and tilted in the roll plane) may also be influenced by gravity and by the participant's orientation. Pictures of human body postures were presented in different orientations with respect to gravity and the participant's body. The participant's body was aligned to gravity (upright) or not (lying on one side). Participants performed stability judgments with respect to the platform, imagining that gravity operates in the direction indicated by the platform (that was or was not concordant with physical gravity). Such visual judgments were influenced by the picture's orientation with respect to physical gravity. When pictures were tilted by 90° with respect to physical gravity, the human postures that were tilted toward physical gravity (down) were perceived as more unstable than similar postures tilted away from physical gravity (up). Stability judgments were also influenced by the picture's orientation with respect to the participant's body. This indicates that gravity and the participant's body position may influence the visual perception of static objects.
Sources of variation: observer orientation (body upright, body tilted), picture orientation (picture upright, upside down, tilted 90° clockwise and counterclockwise), direction of the human body roll with respect to the platform (leftward, rightward), and angle of the human body roll (16 angles).
F-statistics are reported with degree of freedom and probability level ( p).
Note: *Significant main effects and interactions.
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