It’s Out of My Hands! Grasping Capacity May Not Influence Perceived Object Size

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Linkenauger, Witt, and Proffitt (2011) found that the perceived size of graspable objects was scaled by perceived grasping capacity. However, it is possible that this effect occurred because object size was estimated on the same trial as grasping capacity. This may have led to a conflation of estimates of perceived action capacity and spatial properties. In 5 experiments, we tested Linkenauger et al.’s claim that right-handed observers overestimate the grasping capacity of their right hand relative to their left hand, and that this, in turn, leads them to underestimate the size of objects to-be-grasped in their right hand relative to their left hand. We replicated the finding that right handers overestimate the size and grasping capacity of their right hand relative to their left hand. However, when estimates of object size and grasping capacity were made in separate tasks, objects grasped in the right hand were not underestimated relative to those grasped in the left hand. Further, when grasping capacity was physically restricted, observers appropriately recalibrated their perception of their maximum grasp but estimates of object size were unaffected. Our results suggest that changes in action capacity may not influence perceived object size if sources of conflation are controlled for.

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