People are less susceptible to illusion when they use their hands to communicate rather than estimate
Brown, A. R., Pouw, W., Brentari, D., & Goldin-Meadow, S.
People are less susceptible to illusion when they use their hands to communicate rather than estimate. Psychological Science, 32
, 1227-1237. doi:10.1177/0956797621991552.
When we use our hands to estimate the length of a stick in the Müller-Lyer illusion, we are highly susceptible to the illusion. But when we prepare to act on sticks under the same conditions, we are significantly less susceptible. Here, we asked whether people are susceptible to illusion when they use their hands not to act on objects but to describe them in spontaneous co-speech gestures or conventional sign languages of the deaf. Thirty-two English speakers and 13 American Sign Language signers used their hands to act on, estimate the length of, and describe sticks eliciting the Müller-Lyer illusion. For both gesture and sign, the magnitude of illusion in the description task was smaller than the magnitude of illusion in the estimation task and not different from the magnitude of illusion in the action task. The mechanisms responsible for producing gesture in speech and sign thus appear to operate not on percepts involved in estimation but on percepts derived from the way we act on objects.