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Marcos Janzen, Nate Tenhundfeld, Jessica Witt; That's so far! Experienced hikers also overestimate distances on a hill. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):264. doi: 10.1167/16.12.264.
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According to the action-specific perception account, spatial perception is affected by the energetic costs required to perform an action. For example, hills require more energy to traverse than flat ground, so distances on a hill are overestimated relative to distances on flat ground. This is known as the distance-on-hills effect. However, previous research has also shown that perception may be scaled to one's ability to act. Factors that affect ability and thus influence perception include body size, body control and coordination, energetic potential, and the challenges of the task. In the current experiment, we examined if hiking experience would alter the distance-on-hill effect. Our hypothesis was that people with more experience walking up hills would be able to resist this bias in spatial perception. Thus, people with greater experience would show a reduced, if not eliminated, bias to see distances on hills to be farther than distances on the flat. Participants visually matched distances on a hill to distances on flat ground in VR. As expected, participants overestimated the distances on the hill, judging the cone on the hill as being closer than the cone on the flat, indicating that distances on a hill look farther. Participants also answered a survey on hiking experience. The factor analysis of this survey demonstrated an adequate single factor solution, and had an acceptable Cronbach's alpha of 0.764. Therefore, we examined whether hiking experience related to the distance-on-hills effect. Hiking experience produced no change in the distance-on-hill effect, which was significant for low and high experience hikers. Results suggest that the distance-on-hills effect is robust and perceptually stable. Even for those with lots of experience on hills, the effect remains the same. A hallmark of many perceptual phenomena is that prior experience plays little to no role. The distance-on-hills effect shares this feature.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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