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Are visual artists better visual perspective takers? An exploratory study with an unexpected outcome

Samuel, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7776-7427 (2024). Are visual artists better visual perspective takers? An exploratory study with an unexpected outcome. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,


Visual perspective taking (VPT) has been argued to elicit image-like representations of other people's visual experiences. Separately, it has been demonstrated that there are inter-individual differences in the ability to successfully take other people's visual perspectives. In the present study, adults were asked to judge how long two lines appeared visually from the point of view of an agent. The lines were of identical length, but the agent was always closer to one of the lines than the other, meaning that the closer line should be judged as appearing visually longer. It was hypothesised that adults with experience in the visual arts would perform better at this task for one or both of two reasons: 1) they should be more familiar with the knowledge that the closer an object is the larger it appears visually (i.e., the retinal image is larger), and 2) they might be able to "draw" an image-like representation that more accurately reflects the effect of distance on perceived size. Consistent with previous experiments with this paradigm, adults generally failed to judge the closest line as appearing longer; indeed, as many judged this line would appear visually shorter. Crucially, increasing experience in the visual arts failed to improve the accuracy of VPT judgments; even a group of professional illustrators failed to recognise that the line closest to the agent would appear longer than the line furthest from the agent. These results are discussed in the context of the processes and representation types potentially involved in VPT.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article will be published in its final form in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology by SAGE. Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.
Publisher Keywords: Visual perspective taking; perspective taking; mental images; artists; interpersonal reactivity index.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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