The tilt-constancy theory of visual illusions

William Prinzmetal, Diane M. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors argue that changes in the perception of vertical and horizontal caused by local visual cues can account for many classical visual illusions. Because the perception of orientation is influenced more by visual cues than gravity-based cues when the observer is tilted (e.g., S. E. Asch & H. A. Witkin, 1948), the authors predicted that the strength of many visual illusions would increase when observers were tilted 30°. The magnitude of Zöllner, Poggendorff, and Ponzo illusions and the tilt-induction effect substantially increased when observers were tilted. In contrast, the Müller-Lyer illusion and a size constancy illusion, which are not related to orientation perception, were not affected by body orientation. Other theoretical approaches do not predict the obtained pattern of results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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