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The Effects of Adding Pictorial Depth Cues to the Poggendorff Illusion

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posted on 2023-08-23, 00:49 authored by Gizem Yildiz, BG Evans, Philippe ChouinardPhilippe Chouinard
We tested if the misapplication of perceptual constancy mechanisms might explain the perceived misalignment of the oblique lines in the Poggendorff illusion. Specifically, whether these mechanisms might treat the rectangle in the middle portion of the Poggendorff stimulus as an occluder in front of one long line appearing on either side, causing an apparent decrease in the rectangle’s width and an apparent increase in the misalignment of the oblique lines. The study aimed to examine these possibilities by examining the effects of adding pictorial depth cues. In experiments 1 and 2, we presented a central rectangle composed of either large or small bricks to determine if this manipulation would change the perceived alignment of the oblique lines and the perceived width of the central rectangle, respectively. The experiments demonstrated no changes that would support a misapplication of perceptual constancy in driving the illusion, despite some evidence of perceptual size rescaling of the central rectangle. In experiment 3, we presented Poggendorff stimuli in front and at the back of a corridor background rich in texture and linear perspective depth cues to determine if adding these cues would affect the Poggendorff illusion. The central rectangle was physically large and small when presented in front and at the back of the corridor, respectively. The strength of the Poggendorff illusion varied as a function of the physical size of the central rectangle, and, contrary to our predictions, the addition of pictorial depth cues in both the central rectangle and the background decreased rather than increased the strength of the illusion. The implications of these results with regards to different theories are discussed. It could be the case that the illusion depends on both low-level and cognitive mechanisms and that deleterious effects occur on the former when the latter ascribes more certainty to the oblique lines being the same line receding into the distance.


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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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