The accuracy of 'haptically' measured geographical slant perception

Guy A H Taylor-Covill, Frank F Eves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In two recent issues of Acta, the widely accepted view of Proffitt (2006), that 'haptic' measures of perceived geographical slant are generally accurate, and dissociated from explicit overestimates, came under intense scrutiny (Durgin, Hajnal, Li, Tonge, and Stigliani, 2010; 2011). Durgin and colleagues' challenge to this account centred on the claim that Proffitt's haptic' measure of geographical slant, the palm-board, may be accidently accurate due to restricted movements available at the wrist. Two experiments reported here compare the accuracy of Proffitt's palm-board with an alternative measure of geographical slant perception, the Palm-Controlled Inclinometer (PCI), which allows participants to use wrist, elbow and shoulder movements to match slant with their hand. Participants (N=320) made slant judgements using both measures, across five hills and five staircases with 32 participants for each stimulus angle (4.5°-31°). Results for the palm-board replicated those of Proffitt and co-workers, overestimation at shallow angles (≤14°), contrasted with underestimation at steeper angles (≥23°), whereas estimates made using the PCI had a greater degree of accuracy for steeper slopes. A follow-up experiment tested the accuracy of the palm-board and PCI for surfaces in near space to repeat the design of Durgin et al. (2010, experiment 1). Participants (N=20) used the palm-board and PCI to judge the angle of slanted blocks (25°, 30°). As with traversable slopes, PCI judgements did not differ from the actual angle of the blocks whereas the palm-board measure underestimated. 'Haptic' measures of geographical slant perception can be accurate for relatively steep slopes, in both near and far space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-50
Number of pages7
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Female
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Space Perception
  • Touch Perception
  • Young Adult


Dive into the research topics of 'The accuracy of 'haptically' measured geographical slant perception'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this