Walking on Visual Illusions

Greig M M Dickson, Daria A Burtan, Shelley James, David Phillips, Jasmina Stevanov, Priscilla Heard, Ute B Leonards*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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In nature, sensory and physical characteristics of the environment tend to match; for example, a surface that looks bumpy is bumpy. In human-built environments, they often don’t. Here we report observations from people exploring if mismatch between visual and physical characteristics affected their perceived walking experience. Participants walked across four flat floors, each comprising of a visual illusion: two patterns perceived as alternating 3D “furrows and ridges”; the “Primrose Field” illusion, and a variant of the “Café Wall” illusion as a control pattern without perceived 3D effects. Participants found all patterns intriguing to look at; some describing them as “playful” or “gentle”. More than half found some of the patterns uncomfortable to walk on, aversive, affecting walking stability and occasionally even evoking fear of falling. These experiences raise crucial research questions for the vision sciences into the impact of architectural design on wellbeing and walkability.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Early online date20 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2021

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception

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