When Physical and Social Distances Produce An Analogical Perceptual Bias in the Ebbinghaus Illusion


  • Kévin Moinier
  • Juliette Gasquet
  • Vincent Murday
  • Lionel Brunel




Grounded social cognition; physical and social distances; Ebbinghaus illusion paradigm; size-contrast perceptual bias.


Grounded theory argues that perceptual and memory processes share common sensorimotor properties, and that they influence each other during perceptual processing of the environment’s features. When these principles are applied to social cognition, it was shown that to live, or represent, a situation related to a social distance concept (e.g., ostracism) leads to a similar bias on the perceptual judgements of the space’s properties, illustrating that distance-physical cues are intrinsically linked to social concepts. In two experiments using an Ebbinghaus illusion based-paradigm, we investigated the symmetrical incidence produced by a perceptual physical (Experiment 1) and conceptual social distance (Experiment 2) on the perceptual judgements of size. The present findings have shown an analogical pattern of results, regardless of whether the perceived distance between the central and inducer disks was physically or conceptually manipulated. Experiment 1 indicated that when the physical distance between these latter disks was important, the size-contrast perceptual bias was weaker. Experiment 2 has shown a similar weakness of the Ebbinghaus illusion when the social distance was present between the central and inducer disks. A plausible explanation for both sets of findings is that insofar as social distance concepts are physically based, it appears that a perceptual dimension of physical distance can be reactivated by the presence of a conceptual social distance between stimuli. As a consequence, it is not surprizing that a analogical size-contrast perceptual bias emerges when a perceptual physical distance and conceptual social distance are inserted in Ebbinghaus illusion figures.




How to Cite

Moinier, K., Juliette Gasquet, Vincent Murday, & Lionel Brunel. (2018). When Physical and Social Distances Produce An Analogical Perceptual Bias in the Ebbinghaus Illusion. European Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 4(2), 52–58. https://doi.org/10.26417/ejis.v4i2a.p52-58