Orientation and experience in the perception of form: a study with the arizona whale-kangaroo

John F. Kihlstrom*, Mary A. Peterson, Kevin M. Mconkey, Jacquelyn Cranney, Marth A.L. Glisky, Patricia M. Rose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


When subjects are presented with the Arizona whale-kangaroo, an ambiguous figure, perception of the whale is more common than perception of the kangaroo. However, this difference is smaller in Australian than American subjects. Perception of the kangaroo is more orientation dependent than perception of the whale, which is perceived at all orientations of the stimulus. Together with the difference between subject populations, this effect reveals an influence of past experience on the perception of this new ambiguous figure. Perception of the whale versus the kangaroo differs in both reconstrual of parts and realignment of the object-centered reference frame. Observers report reference frame reconstruals before reference frame reversals, shedding light on the organization of object memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • perception
  • ambiguous figures
  • reversible figures
  • bistable figures
  • multistable figures
  • form perception
  • shape recognition
  • object recognition
  • orientation
  • past experience
  • category clustering
  • culture and perception


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