Attentional Modulation of Size Contrast

Gordon L. Shulman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A test circle surrounded by smaller context circles appears larger if presented in isolation, whereas a test circle surrounded by large context circles is seen as smaller than in isolation. Two experiments are reported indicating that this phenomenon, the Ebbinghaus illusion, depends on whether subjects are attending to the context circles. Subjects first saw a reference circle and then a briefly presented (150 msec) test circle. Their task was to determine whether the test circle was larger or smaller than the reference. The test circle was surrounded by smaller context circles of one colour arrayed along a horizontal axis centred on the test, and larger context circles of a different colour arrayed along a vertical axis centred on the test. Subjects judged both the size of the test and the colours of either the small or large context circles. Perceived test size changed systematically, depending on which context circles were task-relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-546
Number of pages18
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 1992

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