The effect of variability in other objects’ sizes on the extent to which people rely on retinal image size as a cue for judging distance
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Retinal image size can be used to judge objects’ distances because for any object one can assume that some sizes are more likely than others. It has been shown that an increased variability in the size of otherwise identical target objects over trials reduces the weight given to retinal image size as a distance cue. Here, we examined whether an increased variability in the size of objects of a different color, orientation, or shape reduces the weight given to retinal image size when judging distance. Subjects had to indicate the 3D position of a simulated target object. Retinal image size was given significantly less weight as a cue for judging the target cube’s distance when differently colored and differently oriented target objects appeared in many simulated sizes but not when differently shaped objects had many simulated sizes. We also examined whether increasing the variability in the size of cubes in the surroundings reduces the weight given to retinal image size when judging distance. It does not. We conclude that variability in surrounding or dissimilar objects’ sizes has a negligible influence on the extent to which people rely on retinal image size as a cue for judging distance.