NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ834126
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
ISSN: ISSN-0096-1523
The Roles of Altitude and Fear in the Perception of Height
Stefanucci, Jeanine K.; Proffitt, Dennis R.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v35 n2 p424-438 Apr 2009
Previous research on perceiving spatial layout has found that people often exhibit normative biases in their perception of the environment. For instance, slant is typically overestimated and distance is usually underestimated. Surprisingly, however, the perception of height has rarely been studied. The present experiments examined the perception of height when viewed from the top (e.g., looking down) or from the bottom (e.g., looking up). Multiple measures were adapted from previous studies of horizontal extents to assess the perception of height. Across all of the measures, a large, consistent bias was found: Vertical distances were greatly overestimated, especially from the top. Secondary findings suggest that the overestimation of distance and size that occurs when looking down from a high place correlates with reports of trait- and state-level fear of heights, suggesting that height overestimation may be due, in part, to fear. (Contains 1 footnote, 1 table and 11 figures.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A