Examining the crossmodal consequences of viewing the Müller-Lyer illusion.
Gallace A., Spence C.
For many years, the Müller-Lyer illusion was studied as a purely "visual" illusion, but like many other optical illusions, the evidence now shows that it also occurs when stimuli are presented tactually. In the present study, we investigated whether the visual perception of the illusion would have any crossmodal consequences for haptic perception. The wings-in and wings-out parts of the Müller-Lyer illusion were placed end-to-end, sharing a central fin. This Brentano version of the illusion was presented visually on a screen in front of the participants, who had to compare the "felt" length of two sticks placed on the back of the screen, one behind either part of the illusion. Our results show that the presentation of the visual illusion modified the felt lengths of the sticks presented directly behind the illusion. In particular, the stick presented on the side of space perceived visually as being shorter (behind the wings-in part of the display) was perceived as longer, and vice versa for the stick mounted behind the space perceived visually as longer (behind the wings-out part of the display). These results highlight the crossmodal consequences of the visual perception of the Müller-Lyer illusion for the haptic perception of line length.