Published On: 25/01/2005|Categories: 2003–2007, Vol.26 (1), Vol.26 (2005)|

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If a moving stimulus (i.e., launcher) contacts a stationary target that subsequently begins to move, observers attribute motion of the target to the launcher (Michotte, 1946/1963). In experiments reported here, a stationary launcher adjacent to the target appeared or vanished and displacement in memory for the position of the target was measured. Forward displacement of moving targets was less (a) when launchers appeared than when launchers vanished, and (b) when targets moved in the direction of implied impetus than when targets moved in a direction orthogonal to implied impetus. Whether launchers appeared or vanished did not influence displacement of targets that remained stationary. The data were consistent with the hypothesis that forward displacement of the target decreased when observers attributed target motion to an impetus resulting from gamma movement of the launcher that was imparted to the target. More generally, the data were consistent with an impetus-based explanation of Michotte’s launching effect (e.g., Hubbard & Ruppel, 2002), and suggest the apparent perception of causality is cognitively mediated rather than direct.

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