Perceiving the Width and Height of a Hand-Held Object by Dynamic Touch

M. T. Turvey, Gregory Burton, Eric L. Amazeen, Matthew Butwill, Claudia Carello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The haptic perceptual subsystem of dynamic touch is prominent in manipulating and transporting objects, providing a nonvisible awareness of their linear dimensions. The hypothesis that perceptions of object width and height by dynamic touch are different functions of the inertia tensor is addressed. In two experiments heights and widths of nonvisible wielded objects were judged separately. Experiment 1 used solid rectangular parallelepipeds of different sizes; Experiment 2 used objects of identical mass and linear dimensions but nonidentical inertia ellipsoids. Width and height perceptions of comparable reliability and accuracy were found to vary as distinct functions of the objects' inertial eigenvalues. Discussion focused on the notion of tangible shape and on the selectivity of attention within dynamic touch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-48
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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