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Motion Parallax in Psychology: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Depth Perception
  • 0:41 What Is Motion Parallax?
  • 2:50 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.

Motion parallax is a monocular depth cue in which we view objects that are closer to us as moving faster than objects that are further away from us. Learn about motion parallax, depth perception, monocular cues, and more.

Depth Perception

Look at this image (see video). What do you see? Most people would interpret the figure in the image as a box or a cube. A box, just like a cube, has three different dimensions: length, width and height. There is something about the way in which the figure is drawn that allows you to to perceive all three dimensions, even though it is drawn on a flat screen which only has two dimensions.

It is due to our ability of depth perception, which is the ability to use visual cues in order to perceive the distance or 3-dimensional characteristics of an object.

What Is Motion Parallax?

Motion parallax is a type of depth perception cue in which objects that are closer appear to move faster than objects that are further. It's a type of monocular cue, a depth perception cue that can be perceived through the use of one eye. This is opposed to binocular cues, which are depth perception cues that can only be perceived through the use of both eyes.

Motion parallax occurs when objects that are at different distances from us appear to move at rates that are different while we are moving. We judge an object's distance based on how quickly an object moves. The closer an object is to us, the quicker it appears to move. The further an object is from us, the slower it appears to move.

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