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  Fear Similarly Alters Perceptual Estimates of and Actions over Gaps

Geuss, M., McCardell, M., & Stefanucci, J. (2016). Fear Similarly Alters Perceptual Estimates of and Actions over Gaps. PLoS ONE, 11(7), 1-19. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158610.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-79A0-3 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-877A-E
Genre: Journal Article

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Geuss, MN1, 2, 3, Author              
McCardell, MJ, Author
Stefanucci, JK, Author              
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497794              
2Research Group Space and Body Perception, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_2528693              
3Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497797              

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 Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated an influence of one’s emotional state on estimates of spatial layout. For example, estimates of heights are larger when the viewer is someone typically afraid of heights (trait fear) or someone who, in the moment, is experiencing elevated levels of fear (state fear). Embodied perception theories have suggested that such a change in perception occurs in order to alter future actions in a manner that reduces the likelihood of injury. However, other work has argued that when acting, it is important to have access to an accurate perception of space and that a change in conscious perception does not necessitate a change in action. No one has yet investigated emotional state, perceptual estimates, and action performance in a single paradigm. The goal of the current paper was to investigate whether fear influences perceptual estimates and action measures similarly or in a dissociable manner. In the current work, participants either estimated gap widths (Experiment 1) or were asked to step over gaps (Experiment 2) in a virtual environment. To induce fear, the gaps were placed at various heights up to 15 meters. Results showed an increase in gap width estimates as participants indicated experiencing more fear. The increase in gap estimates was mirrored in participants’ stepping behavior in Experiment 2; participants stepped over fewer gaps when experiencing higher state and trait fear and, when participants actually stepped, they stepped farther over gap widths when experiencing more fear. The magnitude of the influence of fear on both perception and action were also remarkably similar (5.3 and 3.9 cm, respectively). These results lend support to embodied perception claims by demonstrating an influence on action of a similar magnitude as seen on estimates of gap widths.

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 Dates: 2016-07
 Publication Status: Published online
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 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158610
eDoc: e0158610
BibTex Citekey: GeussMS2016
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Title: PLoS ONE
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 11 (7) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 1 - 19 Identifier: -