Slant Perception In Near Space Is Categorically Biased: Evidence For A Vertical Tendency

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Attention Perception And Psychophysics


The geographical slants of hills are known to appear quite exaggerated. Here, we examine the visual and haptic perception of the geographical slant of surfaces within reach under full-cue conditions and show that the perceived orientation of even these surfaces is biased. An exaggeration with respect to deviations from horizontal is shown to be present cross-modally. Experiment 1 employed numerical estimation to show the effect for visually observed surfaces, while controlling for verbal numerical bias. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the bias is present even when manual measures show good calibration. Experiment 3 controlled for direction of gaze. Experiment 4 measured the same bias for haptic surfaces. Experiment 5 showed that the bias can also be observed using the nonnumeric task of angle bisection. These results constrain theories of geographical slant perception and appear most consistent with functional scale expansion of deviations from horizontal.