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Sensory and Cognitive Explanations for a Century of Size Constancy Research

Mark Wagner

in Visual Experience

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199597277
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741883 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597277.003.0004
Sensory and Cognitive Explanations for a Century of Size Constancy Research

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This chapter reviews size constancy research over the last ninety years. A meta-analysis of this research yields a number of conclusions. For frontally oriented stimuli under full-cue conditions, projective instructions produce strong underconstancy, apparent instructions approximate constancy, objective instructions display overconstancy, and perspective instructions show strong overconstancy. Flat stimuli and reduced-cue conditions yield underconstancy. There is a tendency toward underconstancy in very young subjects, constancy for teenagers, and overconstancy for adults. These results are explained in terms of the transformation theory for size judgment. The chapter also discusses attempts to separate size constancy judgments into sensory and cognitive components. It argues that this distinction is not meaningful unless the sensory component is phenomenally experienced and reportable under some set of experimental conditions. Unfortunately, there is no unambiguous way to determine whether such reference conditions exist. An alternative is a Gestalt approach that sees different instructions as generating different mental organizations.

Keywords: projective instructions; underconstancy; overconstancy; size constancy judgments; flat stimuli; reduced-cue conditions

Chapter.  11390 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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