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Distance perception in a natural outdoor setting: is there a developmental trend to overconstancy?

  • José A. Da Silva (a1), Elton H. Matsushima (a2), J. Antonio Aznar-Casanova (a3) and Nilton P. Ribeiro-Filho (a4)

Abstract

The main purpose of the present study was to investigate whether in natural environment, using very large physical distances, there is a trend to overconstancy for distance estimates during development. One hundred and twenty-nine children aged 5 to 13 years old and twenty-one adults (in a control group), participated as observers. The observer's task was to bisect egocentric distances, ranging from 1.0 to 296.0 m, presented in a large open field. The analyses focused on two parameters, constant errors and variable errors, such as measuring accuracy and precision, respectively. A third analysis focused on the developmental pattern of shifts in constancy as a function of age and range of distances. Constant error analysis showed that there are two relevant parameters for accuracy, age, and range of distances. For short distances, there are three developmental stages: 5-7 years, when children have unstable responses, 7-11, underconstancy, and 13 to adulthood, when accuracy is reached. For large distances, there is a two-stage development: 5-11 years, with severe underconstancy, and beyond this age, with mild underconstancy. Variable errors analyses indicate that precision is noted for 7 year-old children, independently of the range of distances. The constancy analyses indicated that there is a shift from constancy (or slightly overconstancy) to underconstancy as a function of physical distance for all age groups. The age difference is noted in the magnitude of underconstancy that occurs in larger distances, where adults presented lower levels of underconstancy than children. The present data were interpreted as due to a developmental change in cognitive processing rather than to changes in visual space perception.

El principal objetivo de este estudio fue investigar si en un medio natural, empleando distancias físicas muy grandes, hay una tendencia a sobre-constancia para las estimaciones de distancias durante el desarrollo evolutivo. Participaron como observadores 129 niños de edades entre 5 y 13 años y 21 adultos (en un grupo control). La tarea de los observadores consistió en biseccionar unas distancias egocéntricas, que variaban entre 1,0 y 296,0 m, presentadas en un gran campo abierto. El análisis se centró en dos parámetros, error constante y error variable, de la exactitud y precisión de medida, respectivamente. Un tercer análisis se centró en el patrón evolutivo de cambios en la constancia en función de la edad y el rango de distancias. El análisis de los errores constantes mostró que hay dos parámetros relevantes para la precisión, edad y rango de distancias. Para distancias cortas, hay tres fases evolutivas: 5-7 años, cuando los niños dan respuestas inestables, 7-11, infra-constancia, y 13 años hasta la adultez, cuando alcanzan la exactitud (constancia). Para las distancias largas, hay un desarrollo de dos fases: 5-11 años, con infra-constancia severa, y más allá de esta edad, con ligera infra-constancia. El análisis del error variable indica que se alcanza precisión a partir de 7 años, con independencia del rango de distancias. En análisis de la constancia indica que existe un cambio desde la constancia (o una ligera sobre-constancia) a infra-constancia en función de la distancia física para todos los grupos de edad. La diferencia de edad se nota en la magnitud de la infra-constancia que ocurre en las distancias más largas, donde los adultos presentaban niveles menores de infra-constancia que los niños. Estos datos se interpretan como debidos a un cambio evolutivo en el procesamiento cognitivo más que a cambios en la percepción visual del espacio.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to José Aparecido Da Silva. Departamento de Psicologia e Educação, Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Bandeirantes, 3900, CEP: 14040-901, Vila Monte Alegre, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil. Phone: +55 1636333728. Fax: +55 16 36333728. e-mail: jadsilva@ffclrp.usp.br

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Keywords

Distance perception in a natural outdoor setting: is there a developmental trend to overconstancy?

  • José A. Da Silva (a1), Elton H. Matsushima (a2), J. Antonio Aznar-Casanova (a3) and Nilton P. Ribeiro-Filho (a4)

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