Samuel F, Kerzel D, 2006, "Visual perception of equilibrium position of composite objects" Perception 35 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Visual perception of equilibrium position of composite objects
F Samuel, D Kerzel
How accurately and how precisely do we perceive if an object in an unstable position will fall to one side or the other? What are the visual cues these judgments are based on? Possibly, observers use heuristics which replace the physically correct evaluation (ie an evaluation based on the position of the centre of surface, as a centre of mass, in relation to the point of support). In a psychometric study using forced-choice judgments and a presentation time of 1 s, we determined the point of subjective equilibrium (PSE) for various objects composed of two or three adjacent but non-overlapping squares. The PSE was found to differ significantly as a function of object. In order to determine the effective visual cues, we calculated the deviations between PSE and the potential cues (ie various centres of mass, position of summit, lateral extension, angles at the base of the object) for each object. A small deviation indicated that observers used the given cue to make the equilibrium decision. Inter-observer variability was considerable and observers could be classified according to their preferred cue.
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