Skating down a steeper slope: fear influences the perception of geographical slant

Perception. 2008;37(2):321-3. doi: 10.1068/p5796.


Previous studies have shown that conscious awareness of hill slant is overestimated, but visually guided actions directed at hills are relatively accurate. Also, steep hills are consciously estimated to be steeper from the top than the bottom, possibly because they are dangerous to descend. In the present study, participants stood at the top of a hill either on a skateboard or a wooden box of the same height. They gave three estimates of the slant: a verbal report, a visually matched estimate, and a visually guided action. Fear of descending the hill was also assessed. Those participants who were scared (by the skateboard) consciously judged the hill to be steeper than unafraid participants. However, the visually guided action measure was accurate across conditions. These results suggest that explicit awareness of slant is influenced by the fear associated with a potentially dangerous action that could be performed on the hill.

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Fear*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Psychophysics
  • Skating