Determinants of the Bourdon effect

G. I.N. Rozvany, R. H. Day

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The Bourdon illusion is the apparent inward bending of straight, collinear edges in a solid figure consisting of two elongated triangles meeting at their apexes. This effect was investigated in five experiments. In the first and third experiments, it was shown that the apparent bending is greatest when the apical angles are about 12 deg and the axis of the figure is oriented at about 22 deg from the vertical. The second experiment was a control involving visual acuity for angular departures of two lines from collinearity and served as a basis of selection for subjects in Experiments 3, 4, and 5. Experiments 4 and 5 showed that the illusion occurs strongly in a solid ("filled in") figure but is notably smaller in outline figures of the same size and shape. It tends to be negative in outline figures with boundaries formed by continuous and broken lines. The relationship between the Bourdon illusion and the "negative" Zöllner illusion is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1980


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

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