Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Claudia Carello; David A. Kenny; Felicia Pratto

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Recent perception research has revealed that judgments of distance are influenced by the energetic cost required to perform particular actions, such as walking, across these distances (Proffitt, 2006b). However, this prior research has focused almost exclusively on the perceptual consequences of solo action, despite the fact that individuals regularly become embedded within social units for the purpose of joint action (Richardson, Marsh, & Schmidt, 2005). In two experiments, the current work sought to test the hypothesis that forming a social unit creates a new perception-action system with distinct perceptual attunement of the environment scaled to the unit’s action-potential. Participants, accompanied by a confederate, were asked to judge the distance between themselves and a target location after being told they would be carrying a heavy box to it either individually or jointly. Surprisingly, even though carrying with another person requires less physical effort, participants judged distances to be farther when they expected help, thus challenging the comprehensiveness of Proffitt’s (2006) energetic economy account. Instead, these findings are explained in terms of the constraints on unit coordination that result from both the task itself and from perceptions of one’s partner.

Major Advisor

Kerry L. Marsh