Looking and Seeing (01-05-18)

The information we take in with our eyes may not be processed in an entirely objective way.  A research team lead by Witt of Colorado State University has, over approximately the last decade, published studies indicating that “vision can change as a function of action. . . . Among Witt’s best-known experiments: When baseball players are hitting better, they see the ball as bigger. When someone lacks fitness or is carrying a heavy backpack, they see a hill as steeper.”  In a paper in Psychological Science, Witt, Tenhundfeld and Tymoski share that they asked participants in a new study to play “a game very much like Pong, a ball bounces across a screen, and participants use a joystick to block the ball with a paddle of varying sizes. . . . the ‘Pong effect’ is when the ball appears faster when the paddle is smaller, even though the speed remains unchanged. The Pong effect supports Witt’s hypotheses about actions influencing vision. . . . Witt added post-experiment surveys to gather data on whether participants guessed the experiments’ purpose, and whether their inferences affected how they saw the ball. . . .Few guessed the nature of the experiment (Bigger paddle = ball appears slower). But, critically, the Pong effect showed up regardless of the participants’ level of insight into the experiments’ true purpose.’”

Anne Manning.  2018.  “Pong Paddles and Perception:  Our Actions Influence What We See.” Press release, Colorado State University, https://natsci.source.colostate.edu/pong-paddles-perception-actions-influence-see/