August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
When reaching is risky, disgust influences estimates of exocentric distance.
Author Affiliations
  • Kyle Gagnon
    University of Utah
  • Michael McCardell
    University of Utah
  • Samantha Fuhrman
    University of Utah
  • Jeanine Stefanucci
    University of Utah
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1085. doi:
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      Kyle Gagnon, Michael McCardell, Samantha Fuhrman, Jeanine Stefanucci; When reaching is risky, disgust influences estimates of exocentric distance.. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1085.

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

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Research suggests that estimates of perceived space may change while in an emotional state. Here we test whether perceived exocentric distance changes when in a state of disgust. Given that the function of disgust is to help us avoid pathogens, we hypothesized that estimates of distances between a benign object and a pathogen source would be more accurate than estimates of the same distances in a control condition. Such a finding would subserve the function of disgust and ultimately enhance action planning. Participants in the disgust condition viewed experimentally constructed feces (that reliably induced disgust) in the center of a table while participants in the control condition viewed an eraser that did not induce disgust. A cookie was placed at one of twenty locations around the feces or eraser on each trial. All participants were asked to imagine picking up the cookie. Then they instructed the experimenter to adjust a tape measure until its length perfectly matched the distance between the cookie and the feces or eraser. Finally, participants were asked to pick up the cookie and place it on a plate next to them. The results show that participants in the feces condition estimated the distance from the cookie to the feces to be significantly shorter and were also more accurate. However, this effect was only found for cookie locations that would require a reach trajectory that went over or near the feces. Overall, the data suggest that estimates of perceived distance become more accurate while disgusted to help us avoid contact with pathogens when planning for future actions. Although the task was not purely perceptual, it appears to be influenced by imagined action or the intent to act.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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