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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2005 Nov;31(6):1492-501.

Naive beliefs in baseball: systematic distortion in perceived time of apex for fly balls.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Ohio State University-Mansfield, Mansfield, OH 44906, USA.


When fielders catch fly balls they use geometric properties to optically maintain control over the ball. The strategy provides ongoing guidance without indicating precise positional information concerning where the ball is located in space. Here, the authors show that observers have striking misconceptions about what the motion of projectiles should look like from various perspectives and that they estimate when the physical apex of a fly ball occurs to be far later than actual, irrespective of baseball experience. Their estimations are consistent with the highest point they are looking at as the ball approaches, not with the physical apex. These findings introduce a new and robust effect in intuitive perception in which people confuse their perceptual perspective with the physical situation that they mentally represent.

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