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Jessica Witt; Action-Specific Perception Depends on Relative Performance when Judging Speed via a Speed-Bisection Task and Absolute Performance when Judging Speed via a Magnitude Estimation Task. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1270. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.1270.
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Spatial perception is influenced by the perceiver's ability to perform an action. For example, when playing a modified version of the classic computer game Pong, participants see the ball as moving faster when they play with a small paddle than when they play with a big paddle. The small paddle is less effective at blocking the ball, and this is theorized to be the reason why the ball looks faster. A critical question concerns the mechanism by which action exerts its influence on perception. The mechanism must have two components: a source of information about the action and a process by which the source exerts its influence. In the current experiments, I explored whether the source of information is a function of relative information about performance, or absolute performance. Specifically, does the medium paddle, which leads to approximately 80% of balls successfully blocked, produce similar effects on perceived ball speed regardless of context, or does it matter if the medium paddle is paired with the big paddle (95% balls blocked) versus the small paddle (45% balls blocked)? In other words, the medium paddle is a more effective paddle in the context of the small paddle but a less effective paddle in the context of the big paddle. Does this context matter for action's influence on perception? In the first study, participants estimated ball speed by performing a speed bisection task for which they classified each ball as moving more like the slow speed or more like the fast speed. The data clearly show that relative, rather than absolute, performance influences perceived speed. In the second study, participants estimated ball speed by rating the speed of the ball on a scale of 1-7. The data clearly show that absolute, rather than relative, performance influences perceived ball speed. Thus, a mystery ensues.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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