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Journal Article

The effects of handedness and reachability on perceived distance


Linkenauger,  SA
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Linkenauger, S., Witt JK, Stefanucci JK, Bakdash, J., & Proffitt, D. (2009). The effects of handedness and reachability on perceived distance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 35(6), 1649-1660. doi:10.1037/a0016875.

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Previous research has suggested that perceived distances are scaled by the action capabilities of the body. The present studies showed that when “reachability” is constrained due to a difficult grasp required to pick up an object, perceived distance to the object increases. Participants estimated the distances to tools with handle orientations that made them either easy or difficult to grasp with their dominant and nondominant hands. Right-handed participants perceived tools that were more difficult to grasp to be farther away than tools that were easier to grasp. However, perceived distance did not differ in left-handed participants. These studies suggest that, when reaching toward a target, the distance to that target is scaled in terms of how far one can effectively reach, given the type of reaching posture that is executed. Furthermore, this effect is modulated by handedness.