Interactions between abstract actions and apparent distance

Abstract

Perceptions influence the way we act in our environment based upon judgments assessing required efforts to perform an action and the availability and demand for immediate action on an object (Proffitt, 2006B). Social and physical anxiety has been shown to distort perceptions of depth and perceptions of object size (Stefanucci et al., 2008; Cañal- Bruland et al., 2010). Relatively little work, however, has explored the potential role of depth perception in abstract reasoning tasks (Landy & Linkenauger, 2010). In Experiment 1, the relationship between depth perception and the order of actions taken to simplify arithmetic expressions was investigated by manipulating apparent distances of arithmetic operations of high and low syntactic precedence. When the high precedence operations appeared to be closer to the participant, expressions were solved more quickly than when low precedence expressions appeared to be closer. Experiment 2 explored the whether the affordance of abstract actions conversely impacted perceived distance by asking participants to make distance judgments to multiplication and addition operations. Experiment 2 found no impact of anxiety about mathematics on perceived distance. However, effects resulting from condition assignment were found to influence perceived distances, as well as solving strategy. We interpret results in terms of attention, which we speculate plays a key role moderating both ordering behavior and perceived distance.


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