Canonical visual size for real-world objects

Konkle & Oliva

Real-world objects can be viewed at a range of distances and thus can be experienced at a range of visual angles within the visual field. Given the large amount of visual size variation possible when observing objects, we examined how internal object representations represent visual size information. In a series of experiments which required observers to access existing object knowledge, we observed that real-world objects have a consistent visual size at which they are drawn, imagined, and preferentially viewed. Importantly, this visual size is proportional to the logarithm of the assumed size of the object in the world, and is best characterized not as a fixed visual angle, but by the ratio of the object and the frame of space around it. Akin to the previous literature on canonical perspective, we term this consistent visual size information the canonical visual size.

Konkle, T. & Oliva, A. (2011). Canonical visual size for real-world objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 37(1):23-37.