Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Emotional Arousal Interacts with Depth Perception

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Emotional Arousal Interacts with Depth Perception

Article excerpt

DEPTH PERCEPTION

Stefanucci & Storbeck (2009). Don't look down: Emotional arousal elevates height perception. JEP:G, 138, 131.

Emotional arousal is known to influence a wide variety of higherlevel cognitive functions, such as attention, memory, judgment, and decision-making, but relatively little research has investigated the effects of emotional arousal on lower-level processes, such as the perception of distance. This gap may seem surprising to anyone who has ever peered at the ground from a great height, for as many of us know, feelings of fear and anxiety often accompany such experiences. What effects do these emotional states have on one's perception of height, and which aspects of these complex emotional states contribute to perception? Recently, Stefanucci and Storbeck examined this issue by comparing direct (height estimation) and indirect (size estimation) measures of height perception across groups of aroused and nonaroused observers. Of particular interest in this study was the fact that arousal level was manipulated independent of fear by having observers in the high-arousal group view pictures that had previously been judged highly arousing, whereas observers in the low-arousal group viewed pictures that had previously been judged nonarousing. …

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