The Eiffel Tower and Visual Perspective (Photo Post)

Last week, my friend Emma came to visit! In true tourist fashion, we decided to go to Trocadero to get a good view of the Eiffel Tower and watch it sparkle as the clock hit midnight. The area was crowded and full of people who undoubtedly had the same genius idea as us; the human desire to see something sparkle is evidently quite strong. While we stood there marveling at the monument in all its opulence, we both noted how we had expected the Eiffel Tower to be bigger than it really was. This got me thinking about perspective – from only ever looking at images, we overestimated the size of the Eiffel Tower. But from another vein, in an image, such as the one posted above, the Eiffel Tower might look tiny in comparison to us standing in the foreground – so how does the brain know that this is a matter of perspective, not the Eiffel Tower’s actual size? In a PubMed search, I found a study that actually looked at perspective and estimation of size in regards to the Eiffel Tower! The study found that when leaning to the left, participants estimated the Eiffel Tower’s size to be smaller than participants that stood upright or leaned to the right. Even something as small as posture affects our brain’s perception of an object.

Eerland, A., Guadalupe, T. M., & Zwaan, R. A. (2011). Leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller: posture-modulated estimation. Psychological science22(12), 1511–1514.

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