The effects of angle-arm length on judgements of angle magnitude and orientation contrast

Peter Wenderoth*, Michael Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Acute angles frequently are overestimated, an effect that has been attributed to lateral inhibitory mechanisms. It can be derived from such theories that lengthening the arms of an angle should either reduce or not affect its judged subtense. However, in Experiments 1 and 2, it was found that angles with longer arms were judged larger. In Experiment 3, direct measures of anglearm orientation indicated that orientation contrast does not increase with angle-arm length, that it decreases with distance from the angle vertex, and that these effects are not averaged along the entire length of the arm. It follows that inhibitory mechanisms alone cannot explain why longer armed angles appear larger or why angle arms appear straight rather than bowed. It is suggested that a distinction is required between the orientation and the angular domains and that the latter judgments depend, at least partially, on the space or area within an angle. The fact that angles appear unbowed may reflect the fact that perceived orientation differences occur along an angle’s arm only when matches are made to small segments of the arm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-544
Number of pages7
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1984
Externally publishedYes


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