Psychological Research

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 507–519 | Cite as

What you see and what you are told: an action-specific effect that is unaffected by explicit feedback

  • Zachary R. King
  • Nathan L. Tenhundfeld
  • Jessica K. Witt
Original Article


A critical question for theories of spatial vision concerns the nature of the inputs to perception. The action-specific account asserts that information related to action, specifically a perceiver’s ability to perform the intended action, is one of these sources of information. This claim challenges assumptions about the mind in general and perception in particular, and not surprisingly, has been met with much resistance. Alternative explanations include that these effects are due to response bias, rather than genuine differences in perception. Using a paradigm in which ease to block a ball impacts estimated speed of the ball, participants were given explicit feedback about their perceptual judgements to test the response bias alternative. Despite the feedback, the action-specific effect still persisted, thus ruling out a response-bias interpretation. Coupled with other research ruling out additional alternative explanations, the current findings offer an important step towards the claim that a person’s ability to act truly influences spatial perception.


Action-specific perception Spatial perception Response bias Feedback 



We thank Lew Harvey for his help analyzing the data. This work was supported by Grants from the National Science Foundation to JKW (BCS-1348916 and BCS-1632222).

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

426_2017_848_MOESM1_ESM.docx (183 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 182 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zachary R. King
    • 1
  • Nathan L. Tenhundfeld
    • 1
  • Jessica K. Witt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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