In human perception, the ability to determine eye height is essential, because eye height is used to scale heights of objects, velocities, affordances and distances, all of which allow for successful environmental interaction. It is well understood that eye height is fundamental to determine many of these percepts. Yet, how eye height itself is provided is still largely unknown. While the information potentially specifying eye height in the real world is naturally coincident in an environment with a regular ground surface, these sources of information can be easily divergent in similar and common virtual reality scenarios. Thus, we conducted virtual reality experiments where we manipulated the virtual eye height in a distance perception task to investigate how eye height might be determined in such a scenario. We found that humans rely more on their postural cues for determining their eye height if there is a conflict between visual and postural information and little opportunity for perceptual-motor calibration is provided. This is demonstrated by the predictable variations in their distance estimates. Our results suggest that the eye height in such circumstances is informed by postural cues when estimating egocentric distances in virtual reality and consequently, does not depend on an internalized value for eye height.
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© 2015 Leyrer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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