Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



2020 The Authors


Journal of Vision (2020) 20(6):16, 1–20 Zosky, Vickery, Walter, & Dodd


Object-based warping is a powerful visual illusion wherein space between features within figural regions is regularly overestimated compared with those within ground regions. Originally, the effect was only examined in displays of two-dimensional (2D) stimuli. The present study sought to examine whether object-based warping persists in more naturalistic viewing conditions, where additional contextual cues are present. Stimuli were presented with either three-dimensional (3D) printed objects (Experiment 1) or 3D objects in virtual reality (Experiments 2–4). The testing metric was actual distance of features (dots) compared with estimated distances made by participants. Responses for the 3D printed stimuli were measured with replica dots on a slide ruler device. The virtual reality experiments collected responses either with a computer mouse or motion-tracked controller and included manipulations of object type, spatial separation, viewing distance of stimuli, and head motion. A standard warping effect in 3D was observed in all experiments, although the effect was not present in one condition that elicits warping in 2D (Occluded Rectangle). The final experiment resolves this discrepancy by reducing the multicomponent object (Occluded Rectangle) to a single component figure, while demonstrating the influence of depth cues on the warping effect under occlusion. Collectively, these experiments reveal that object-based warping is a powerful effect, even in naturalistic settings.

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