Recent research has shown that being able to interact with an object causes it to be perceived as being closer than objects that cannot be interacted with. In the present study, we examined whether that compression of perceived space would be experienced by people who simply observed such interactions by others with no intention of performing the action themselves. Participants judged the distance to targets after observing an actor reach to an otherwise unreachable target with a tool (Experiment 1) or illuminate a distant target with a laser pointer (Experiment 2). Observing either type of interaction caused a compression of perceived space, revealing that a person's perception of space can be altered through mere observation. These results indicate that shared representations between an actor and observer are engaged at the perceptual level easily and perhaps automatically, even in the absence of cooperation or an observer's own intention to interact.
- Mirror effect
- Visual perception