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Margaret V. Maltz, Kevin M. Stubbs, Derek J. Quinlan, Anna M. Rzepka, Jocelyn R. Martin, Jody C. Culham; Familiar size affects the perceived size and distance of real objects even with binocular vision. Journal of Vision 2021;21(10):21. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.10.21.
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Although the familiar size of real-world objects affects size and distance perception, evidence is mixed about whether this is the case when oculomotor cues are available. We examined the familiar size effect (FSE) on both size and distance perception for real objects under two viewing conditions with full or restricted oculomotor cues (binocular viewing, which provides vergence and accommodation cues, and monocular viewing through a 1-mm pinhole, which removes those cues). Familiar objects (a playing die versus a Rubik's cube) were manufactured in their typical (1.6-cm die and 5.7-cm Rubik's cube) and reverse (5.7-cm die and 1.6-cm Rubik's cube) sizes and shown at two distances (25 cm versus 91 cm) in isolation. Small near and large far objects subtended equal retinal angles. Participants provided manual estimates of perceived size and distance. For every combination of size and distance, Rubik's cubes were perceived as larger and farther than the dice, even during binocular viewing at near distances (<1 meter), when oculomotor cues are particularly strong. For size perception but not distance perception, the familiar size effect was significantly stronger under monocular pinhole viewing than binocular viewing. These results suggest that (1) familiar size affects the accuracy of perception, not just the speed; (2) the effect occurs even when oculomotor cues are available; and (3) size and distance perception are not perfectly yoked.
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