The "launching effect" depends on size of colliding objects

  • Michele Vicovaro
  • Luigi Burigana

Abstract

Suppose that two squares are aligned horizontally on a computer screen. At a point in time one square (A) starts moving towards the other (B), which remains stationary. When A and B come into contact, the latter starts moving with the same velocity as A, while A comes to a stop. Albert Michotte (1946) demonstrated that, under these stimulus conditions, observers usually have the impression that A “launches†or “pushes†B, a perceptual effect he called the “Launching Effectâ€. Michotte claimed that features of objects A and B (e.g., their size) exert only a slight influence on the phenomenon, however to our knowledge no research has systematically tested this claim. In our experiment we manipulated the size of two simulated spheres, and found that the velocity ratio most favouring the perception of the Launching Effect actually depends on the size of both spheres.

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