Naive beliefs in baseball: Systematic distortion in perceived time of apex for fly balls

Dennis M. Shaffer, Michael McBeath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


When fielders catch fly balls they use geometric properties to optically maintain control over the ball. The strategy provides ongoing guidance without indicating precise positional information concerning where the ball is located in space. Here, the authors show that observers have striking misconceptions about what the motion of projectiles should look like from various perspectives and that they estimate when the physical apex of a fly ball occurs to be far later than actual, irrespective of baseball experience. Their estimations are consistent with the highest point they are looking at as the ball approaches, not with the physical apex. These findings introduce a new and robust effect in intuitive perception in which people confuse their perceptual perspective with the physical situation that they mentally represent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1492-1501
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Baseball
  • Mental representation
  • Naive physics
  • Space perception
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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