Egocentric biases in comparative volume judgments of rooms

Aurelie Saulton, Betty Mohler, Heinrich H. Bulthoff, Trevor J. Dodds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The elongation of a figure or object can induce a perceptual bias regarding its area or volume estimation. This bias is notable in Piagetian experiments in which participants tend to consider elongated cylinders to contain more liquid than shorter cylinders of equal volume. We investigated whether similar perceptual biases could be found in volume judgments of surrounding indoor spaces and whether those judgments were viewpoint dependent. Participants compared a variety of computer-generated rectangular rooms with a square room in a psychophysical task.We found that the elongation bias in figures or objects was also present in volume comparison judgments of indoor spaces. Further, the direction of the bias (larger or smaller) depended on the observer's viewpoint. Similar results were obtained from a monoscopic computer display (Experiment 1) and stereoscopic head-mounted display with head tracking (Experiment 2). We used generalized linear mixed-effect models to model participants' volume judgments using a function of room depth and width. A good fit to the data was found when applying weight on the depth relative to the width, suggesting that participants' judgments were biased by egocentric properties of the space. We discuss how biases in comparative volume judgments of rooms might reflect the use of simplified strategies, such as anchoring on one salient dimension of the space.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by the European Union FP7 project VR HYPERSPACE, by the Volkswagen Foundation project Finding Perspective, and by the Brain Korea 21 PLUS Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Education. We thank Stephan de la Rosa, Christian Wallraven, Tobias Meilinger, and Joachim Tesch for discussions on this work.


  • Perceptual biases
  • Room size perception
  • Spatial perception
  • Viewpoint
  • Volume perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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