Haptic perceptual illusions

  • Edouard Gentaz
  • Yvette Hatwell


Perceptual illusions refer to systematically oriented errors in the perception of figures or scenes, and these errors are observed in almost all people. For centuries, they have been called ‘opto-geometric illusions’ because it was thought that they concerned only visual perception. Although visual errors are relatively rare, comments and questions about visual illusions are found as early as in the Greek and Roman literature. In scientific psychology, the theoretical and practical problems raised by these deformations have been intensively studied since the end of the 19th Century, and the elements of the figure inducing each error are now identified. However, there is no general theory explaining all the visual illusions. Instead, each figure must be analysed in order to determine the specific processes leading to the error.


Visual Illusion Perceptual Error Haptic Perception Exploratory Movement Ponzo Illusion 
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Selected readings

  1. Gentaz E, Hatwell Y (2004) Geometrical haptic illusion: Role of exploratory movements in the Muller-Lyer, Vertical-Horizontal and Delboeuf illusions. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 11: 31–40PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Hayward V (2008) A brief taxonomy of tactile illusions and demonstrations that can be done in a hardware store. Brain Research Bulletin 75: 742–752PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Heller, MA (2003) Haptic perceptual illusions. In: Hatwell Y, Streri A, Gentaz E (eds.): Touching for knowing, 161–171. John Benjamins Publishing Company, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  4. Jones LA, Lederman SJ (2006) Human hand function. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Millar S (2008) Space and Sense. Psychology Press, Hove and New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edouard Gentaz
    • 1
  • Yvette Hatwell
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition (UMR 5105 CNRS)Université Pierre Mendès-FranceGrenoble Cedex 9France

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