Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 70, Issue 8, pp 1571–1580 | Cite as

The visual perception of lines on the road

  • Dennis M. ShafferEmail author
  • Andrew B. Maynor
  • Windy L. Roy


The present work demonstrates that observers grossly underestimate the length of lines parallel to their line of sight. In Experiment 1, observers, working from memory, estimated the length of a dashed line on the road to be 0.61 m. This result is consistent with observers' using an average visual angle converted to the physical length of visible lines on the road to estimate their length. In Experiment 2, observers gave verbal and matching estimates that significantly underestimated the length of a 3.05-m line on the ground that was parallel to their line of sight. In Experiment 3, observers significantly underestimated the length of dashed lines on the road while in a moving car. The results of Experiments 1 and 3 are described well by Euclidean geometry, whereas the tangle model that utilizes an increasing function of the visual angle to describe perceived extent best describes the results of Experiment 2.


Visual Angle Magnitude Estimate Visual Space Actual Length Perpendicular Line 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis M. Shaffer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew B. Maynor
    • 1
  • Windy L. Roy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOhio State UniversityMansfield
  2. 2.Arizona State University WestPhoenix

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