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Christopher Kuylen, Benjamin Balas, Laura Thomas; Both own and other object shadows compress perceived distance. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):142. doi: 10.1167/14.10.142.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People represent their shadows as an extension of the physical body, perceiving a target object as significantly closer to them when they cast a shadow toward this object (Kuylen, Balas, & Thomas, in press). We investigated whether people represent all shadows as extensions of the objects to which they belong. Are the cast-shadows of inanimate objects also capable of perceptually altering space by acting as an extension of the object they represent? Participants (N=60) viewed a target object and estimated the distance between themselves and this object with a perceptual matching paradigm (Witt, 2011) in one of three experimental conditions: (1) while a light projected their cast-body shadow toward the target, (2) while a light projected the cast-shadow of the target toward participants, (3) and under a control condition. Participants estimated the target to be significantly closer to them either when they cast a shadow toward this object or when the object cast a shadow toward them than in the control condition (p <.001 in each case), but the two lighting conditions did not differ from each other (p = .250). These results demonstrate that shadows act as an extension of the item to which they belong, making objects in the environment that cast a shadow appear closer to observers than they actually are. The results add new support to the hypothesis that people represent all shadows as belonging to the object from which they are cast. Even though shadows are purely visual stimuli that can never impact the physical environment, they nonetheless impact how people perceive the physical reality of the world around them.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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