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Linear Perspective in Psychology: Definition & Examples

Linear Perspective in Psychology: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:01 What Is Linear Perspective?
  • 0:58 Examples
  • 2:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Linear perspective is one of several monocular cues used in depth perception. Learn about linear perspective, how it affects our judgment of depth and size, and more.

What is Linear Perspective?

Linear perspective is a type of monocular cue in which parallel lines appear to converge at some point in the distance.

What do you see? How would you describe the graphic in this image?
Cylinder

Look at this image. What do you see? Most people would interpret it as a cylinder, which is a 3-dimensional (3D) figure. Not many people would see it as two circles connected by parallel lines, which is ironically enough the way in which the figure was drawn. So how can we perceive a 3-dimensional figure on a flat surface, such as a piece of paper? It is through the use of visual cues that we are able to perceive the distance or 3D characteristics of an object. This ability is known as depth perception.

Linear perspective is a monocular cue that allows us to perceive the depth and distance of an object. A monocular cue is any depth cue that can be processed by using one eye alone. This is in contrast to binocular cues that require the use of both eyes to perceive distance and depth.

Examples

Look at the picture of the railroad tracks.

railroad tracks

Imagine that you were standing at the head of the railroad tracks. The railroad tracks start as two perfectly parallel lines. You notice that the further away from you the tracks are, the closer they get to each other. It appears as if they meet each other in the distance, although you know that by definition it is not possible for parallel lines to intersect. The point where the parallel lines appear to meet is called the vanishing point.

You also notice that the further away from you that the railroad tracks are, the smaller they appear. Linear perspective supports the notion that the smaller things are, the further away they must be. We use linear perspective to help us determine how close something is to us.

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