August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
The Naïve Physics Curvilinear Impetus Bias does not Occur for Locomotion
Author Affiliations
  • Michael K. McBeath
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Sara E. Brimhall
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Tyler S. Miller
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Steven R. Holloway
    Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 1021. doi:
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      Michael K. McBeath, Sara E. Brimhall, Tyler S. Miller, Steven R. Holloway; The Naïve Physics Curvilinear Impetus Bias does not Occur for Locomotion. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1021. doi:

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

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Past research examining naïve physics tendencies of individuals has confirmed that a notable population exhibits a bias to believe that objects which are constrained to move along curved paths will continue to curve in the same direction after they emerge free from the constraint. The typical example is predicting the path of a rolling ball that emerges from a spiral maze. The present study tests two competing models which could explain this robust cognitive bias. First is the idea that people possess anthropomorphic tendencies which assume that if they or another were running through such a maze they would continue to lean and turn upon emerging. Second is that the curvilinear impetus bias only occurs for cognitive tasks, and disappears when people actually physically navigate out of a curved maze, due to their having access to error-resistant perception-action guidance mechanisms. To test these competing models, we had 50 individuals race out of a spiral maze as fast as they could and we recorded the extent of path curvature that was exhibited between the end-point of the maze and a semicircular end-line 10 feet away. The end-line was designed to be equidistant to the end-point of the maze, with soccer cones placed every two feet to provide discrete alternatives of path curvature. The results revealed a unimodal distribution of path curvature with a mean essentially dead straight ahead (mean=3.1 inches to the side, t=0.44, p=n.s.). We also found no significance for the correlation between curvature and running speed (r=-0.27, p=n.s.). The findings support the model that people do not exhibit a naïve physics curvilinear impetus bias for perception-action tasks that allow access to error-resistant guidance mechanisms. Thus, in actual real-world cases of directional locomotive priming, individuals appear to accurately minimize path curvature and running distances in order to minimize navigational time.

McBeath, M. K. Brimhall, S. E. Miller, T. S. Holloway, S. R. (2010). The Naïve Physics Curvilinear Impetus Bias does not Occur for Locomotion [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):1021, 1021a,, doi:10.1167/10.7.1021. [CrossRef]
 NSF BCS-0318313 and 0403428.

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