Viewpoint dependence in the recognition of non-elongated familiar objects: testing the effects of symmetry, front-back axis, and familiarity

Perception. 2009;38(4):533-51. doi: 10.1068/p6161.


Visual recognition of three-dimensional (3-D) objects is relatively impaired for some particular views, called accidental views. For most familiar objects, the front and top views are considered to be accidental views. Previous studies have shown that foreshortening of the axes of elongation of objects in these views impairs recognition, but the influence of other possible factors is largely unknown. Using familiar objects without a salient axis of elongation, we found that a foreshortened symmetry plane of the object and low familiarity of the viewpoint accounted for the relatively worse recognition for front views and top views, independently of the effect of a foreshortened axis of elongation. We found no evidence that foreshortened front-back axes impaired recognition in front views. These results suggest that the viewpoint dependence of familiar object recognition is not a unitary phenomenon. The possible role of symmetry (either 2-D or 3-D) in familiar object recognition is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Form Perception*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychophysics*
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult