Advertisement

Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 226, Issue 3, pp 383–391 | Cite as

An older view on distance perception: older adults perceive walkable extents as farther

  • Mila Sugovic
  • Jessica K. Witt
Research Article

Abstract

According to the action-specific perception account, spatial perception is affected by the specific energetic costs required to perform an action. In the current experiments, we examined the effect of age on distance perception. Older and younger adults were asked to verbally estimate distance to a target placed in a hallway. Results showed that older adults estimated distances to be farther compared to younger adults. Additionally, older and younger adults estimated distances on a surface that was easier to walk on (carpet) and on a surface that was more difficult to walk on (carpet covered by a plastic tarp). For older adults, distances looked farther on the plastic surface than on the carpet. These differences across surfaces were not found for able, younger adults. These results suggest that the type of floor surface available influences perception of distances. Furthermore, the results suggest that perception is still sensitive to environmental differences that affect ability even as a perceiver ages.

Keywords

Action-specific perception Distance perception Effort Older adults Perception–action relationships 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The work was supported by NSF grant BCS-0957051 to JKW. The authors would like to thank Alexander Francis and Robert Proctor for their helpful discussions, Taitlin Resetic for her help with data collection, and University Place for their assistance.

References

  1. Asch SE (1955) Opinions and social pressure. Sci Am 193:31–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bendall MJ, Bassey EJ, Pearson MB (1989) Factors affecting walking speed of elderly people. Age Ageing 18:327–332PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bhalla M, Proffitt DR (1999) Visual-motor recalibration in geographical slant perception. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 25:1076–1096PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carlson VR (1977) Instructions and perceptual constancy judgments. In: Epstein W (ed) Stability and constancy in visual perception: mechanisms and processes. Wiley, New York, pp 217–254Google Scholar
  5. Chambon M (2009) Embodied perception with others’ bodies in mind: stereotype priming influence on the perception of spatial environment. J Exp Soc Psychol 45:283–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cole S, Balcetis E, Dunning D (2013) Affective signals of threat increase perceived proximity. Psychol Sci 24:34–40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Epstein RA, Higgins JS, Jablonski K, Feiler AM (2007) Visual scene processing in familiar and unfamiliar environments. JN Psysiol 97:3670–3683Google Scholar
  8. Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK (2001) Gait variability and fall risk in community–living older adults: a 1–year prospective study. Archives Phys Med Rehabil 82:1050–1056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. He ZJ, Wu B, Ooi L, Yarbrough G, Wu J (2004) Judging egocentric distance on the ground: occlusion and surface integration. Perception 33:789–806PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Joh AS, Adolph KE, Narayanan PJ, Dietz Victoria A (2007) Gauging possibilities for action based on friction underfoot. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 33:1145–1157PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kallman DA, Plato CC, Tobin JD (1989) The role of muscle loss in the age-related decline of grip strength: cross sectional and longitudinal perspectives. J Gerontol 45:82–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Konkle T, Oliva A (2012) A familiar-size stroop effect: real-world size is an automatic property of object representation. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 38:561–569PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lappin J, Shelton AL, Rieser JJ (2006) Environmental context influences visually perceived distance. Percept Psychophys 68(4):571–581PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Loomis JM, Da Silva JA, Fujita N, Fukushima SS (1992) Visual space perception and visually directed action. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 18:906–921PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mathias S, Nayak US, Isaacs B (1986) Balance in elderly patients: the “get-up and go test”. Archives Phys Med Rehabil 67:387–389Google Scholar
  16. Meng JC, Sedgwick HA (2002) Distance perception across spatial discontinuities. Percept Psychophys 64:1–14PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Philbeck JW, Loomis JM (1997) Visually perceived location is an invariant in the control of action. Percept Psychophys 59:601–612PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Proffitt DR (2006) Embodied perception and the economy of action. Perspect Psychol Sci 1:110–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Proffitt DR, Stefanucci J, Banton T, Epstein W (2003) The role of effort in perceiving distance. Psychol Sci 14:106–112PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Smith S, Gove JE (2005) Physical changes of aging. Available from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/he019
  21. Stefanucci JK, Proffitt DR (2009) The roles of altitude and fear in the perception of heights. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 35:424–438PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stefanucci JK, Storbeck J (2009) Don’t look down: emotional arousal elevates height perception. J Exp Psychol Gen 138:131–145PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tinetti ME (1986) Performance-oriented assessment of mobility problems in elderly patients. J Am Geriatrics Soc 34:119–126Google Scholar
  24. Vellas BJ, Wayne SJ, Romero LJ, Baumgartner RN, Garry PJ (1997) Fear of falling and restriction of mobility in elderly fallers. Age Ageing 26:189–193PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Witt JK (2011) Action’s effect on perception. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 20:201–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Witt JK, Proffitt D, Epstein W (2004) Perceiving distance: a role of effort and intent. Perception 33:577–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Witt JK, Proffitt D, Epstein W (2005) Tool use affects perceived distance but only when you intend to use it. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 31:880–888PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Witt JK, Linkenauger SA, Bakdash JZ, Augustyn JS, Cook A, Proffitt DR (2008) The long road of pain: chronic pain increases perceived distance. Exp Brain Res 192:145–148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Witt JK, Proffitt DR, Epstein W (2010) How and when does action scale perception? J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 36:1153–1160PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations