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Michael Geuss, Jeanine Stefanucci; Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Can I walk through this aperture?. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.1114.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research has shown that manipulating the action capabilities of observers alters their perceived affordances for passage (Higuchi, Takada, Matsuura, & Imanaka, 2004; Wagman & Malek, 2007). Little research has manipulated the environment, instead of the observer, to assess whether changes to the environment can alter the perception of affordances and of the environment itself. In a series of studies, we manipulated the environment by placing a reflective surface (a mirror) behind an aperture, for which participants were asked to judge the width and whether or not they could pass through. Experiment 1 revealed that the presence of a mirror, which distorted the size of the aperture, elicited larger perceptual estimates and a greater willingness to pass through than the absence of a mirror. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the effects found in Experiment 1 were the result of the specific location of the mirror (behind the aperture) and not simply due to a mirror being present in the environment. Experiment 3 investigated the distorting effects of the mirror by varying the distance to the mirror at which the aperture was placed. Experiment 3 revealed that when the aperture was closer to the mirror, participants made larger estimates of aperture width and were more likely to indicate passage than at further distances from the mirror. Results suggest that participants weighted the distorted visual information reflected by the mirror more heavily than visual information about the actual aperture width. This distortion influenced both their judgment about whether they could pass through the aperture and their perception of the size of the aperture.
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