Action-specific effects underwater

Perception. 2011;40(5):530-7. doi: 10.1068/p6910.


Action-specific effects on perception are apparent in terrestrial environments. For example, targets that require more effort to walk, jump, or throw to look farther away than when the targets require less effort. Here, we examined whether action-specific effects would generalize to an underwater environment. Instead, perception might be geometrically precise, rather than action-specific, in an environment that is novel from an evolutionary perspective. We manipulated ease to swim by giving participants swimming flippers or taking them away. Those who estimated distance while wearing the flippers judged underwater targets to be closer than did participants who had taken them off. In addition, participants with better swimming ability judged the targets to be closer than did those with worse swimming ability. These results suggest perceived distance underwater is a function of the perceiver's ability to swim to the targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Distance Perception*
  • Female
  • Generalization, Psychological
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Optical Illusions
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Perceptual Distortion
  • Swimming / psychology*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult