Visual influences on the auditory perception of passability

Date of Completion

January 1999


Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Experimental|Psychology, Cognitive




Generally speaking, vision affects one's ability to localize sound. However, the varieties of visual experience capable of influencing sound localization remain in question. The present study explored the effects of visual preview on the ability of observers to judge whether the space between a wall and a sound source affords passage. Experiments 1 and 2 examined how the quantity and content of visual preview of the experimental setting influenced observer's judgments of passage. Experiments 3 and 4 evaluated the relationship between passability perception and inspection of a two dimensional, schematic representation of the experimental setting. The findings of Experiments 1 and 2 suggest that quantity, not content, of visual preview is a significant factor affecting auditory passability perception. Such a finding is in accordance with the notion that it is better to consider visual experience a quantitative, not categorical, variable (e.g., Jones, 1975). The results of Experiment 3 revealed that inspection of a schematic representation of the experimental setting enhanced auditory judgments of passage regardless of whether or not direct visual experience was permitted. The results of Experiment 4 suggest that for a schematic to enhance auditory passability perception, the schematic must be informative as to the layout of the experimental setting. The findings of the present study are discussed in terms of simultaneous and sequential seeing and listening, first-hand versus second-hand seeing, affordance perception, the significance of the content of visual experience, and perceptual learning. ^