The Various Perceptions of Distance: An Alternative View of How Effort Affects Distance Judgments

  • Woods A
  • Philbeck J
  • Danoff J
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D. R. Proffitt and colleagues (e. g., D. R. Proffitt, J. Stefanucci, T. Banton, & W. Epstein, 2003) have suggested that objects appear farther away if more effort is required to act upon them (e.g., by having to throw a ball). The authors attempted to replicate several findings supporting this view but found no effort-related effects in a variety of conditions differing in environment, type of effort, and intention to act. Although they did find an effect of effort on verbal reports when participants were instructed to take into account nonvisual (cognitive) factors, no effort-related effect was found under apparent- and objective-distance instruction types. The authors' interpretation is that in the paradigms tested, effort manipulations are prone to influencing response calibration because they encourage participants to take nonperceptual connotations of distance into account while leaving perceived distance itself unaffected. This in no way rules out the possibility that effort influences perception in other contexts, but it does focus attention on the role of response calibration in any verbal distance estimation task.

Author-supplied keywords

  • calibration
  • effort
  • egocentric distance perception
  • instruction type
  • visual perception

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