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Janzen Janzen, Tenhundfeld Nathan, Tymoski Michael, Witt Jessica; Distance on hill overestimation is not influenced by hiking experience. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):238. doi: 10.1167/17.10.238.
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Previous research has found that perceptual estimations are scaled by one's ability to act and by the associated costs related to this action. For example, distances on a hill are judged as being farther than distances on the flat, due to the higher metabolic costs associated with traversing hills. One's ability to act may vary according to several different factors, such as age, body size, body control, energetic potential, and task requirements. The extent to which one's ability to act affects spatial perception and which factors specifically contribute to the variation of estimations might provide insight into the underlying mechanisms that rule action-specific perception. In a previous study, we hypothesized that participants with more experience walking up hills would judge distances on hills more accurate, while less experienced participants would overestimate distances on hills. Previous results indicated that experienced hikers did not overestimate distances on hills when visually matching them to distances on the flat. In this study, we aimed to replicate that finding, and to include other factors that have previously been shown to influence distance estimation. Participants visually matched distances on a hill to distances on flat ground in VR and answered a survey on hiking experience. Replicating the main effect, participants overestimated distances on the hill. Contrary to our hypothesis, hiking experience did not modulate overestimation on hills, nor did BMI, or percent of body fat/muscle, contrary to previous research. This study utilized a highly reliable measure which imbues confidence in interpreting this null result. Considering the very high reliability of 0.96, these results suggest that the distance-on-hill effect is robust, and that previous experience does not influence this effect.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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