Compressing perceived distance with remote tool-use: Real, imagined, and remembered

Christopher C. Davoli, James R. Brockmole, Jessica K. Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Reaching for an object with a tool has been shown to cause a compressed perception of space just beyond arm's reach. It is not known, however, whether tools that have distal, detached effects at far distances can cause this same perceptual distortion. We examined this issue in the current study with targets placed up to 30m away. Participants who illuminated targets with a laser pointer or imagined doing so consistently judged the targets to be closer than those who pointed at the targets with a baton. Furthermore, perceptual distortions that arose from tool-use persisted in memory beyond the moment of interaction. These findings indicate that remote interactions can have the same perceptual consequences as physical interactions, and have implications for an action-specific account of perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Affordances
  • Distance perception
  • Embodied cognition
  • Intention
  • Tool use


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