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Attention, Perception, And Psychophysics


When one looks at a spot on level ground, the local optical slant (i.e., surface orientation relative to the line of sight) is geometrically equivalent to the angular declination (i.e., sagittal visual direction relative to horizontal). In theory, angular declination provides an unbiased proximal source of information for estimating optical slant on level ground. Two experiments were conducted to investigate whether human visual systems take advantage of this information. An aspect ratio task was used as an implicit measure for assessing perceived optical slant. Participants gave verbal estimates of the perceived aspect ratio of an L-shaped arrangement, formed by three balls on level ground or on slanted surfaces (hills). Gaze direction was held horizontal when viewing the stimuli on hills. Experiment 1 examined two optical slants (22° to 35°) at relatively short viewing distances (3.1 to 11.5 m), while Experiment 2 tested a shallow optical slant (6°) at relatively long viewing distances (5.7 to 17.2 m). No significant difference in perceived aspect ratio was found between the level-ground and the hill conditions in either experiment. These findings suggest that angular declination does not contribute to perceived optical slant on level ground. It seems that the perception of optical slant and of gaze declination are independent, and this may be because the two variables are normally used jointly to determine a higher order perceptual variable—geographical slant.


Optical slant, Geographical slant, Angular declination, Scale expansion hypothesis, Aspect ratio


This work is a preprint that has been provided to PubMed Central and is freely available courtesy of Springer.

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