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Speed Quality in Apparent Motion Essay


Seven participants each viewed two flipbooks of slow and fast speeds of hand-drawn dots and stick figures. By counterbalancing the conditions, each participant watched the flipbooks according to the sequential order. After viewing either the slow or fast flipbooks, a questionnaire was used to collect and calculate raw data of the experience; which concerned realness, enjoy ability, smoothness, and speed quality. Hypothesizing how speed affects the quality of a flipbook supports Gestalt’s theory and dynamic case of apparent motion perceived. However, contradicting and compromising with the low-speed assumption and case first reported by Wallach.


A popular and thorough explanation for brain and visual functioning, perception, and sensation is known as ‘Gestalt Theory.’ Gestalt theory explains that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Individual parts alone cannot conclude to be as great or effective as the whole entirely. This is important to recognize because a better understanding of why and how the world is viewed as a whole picture can be related to real world instances. Such as in motion pictures and in flipbooks, which helps to differentiate between perceiving apparent motion and actual, real motion. For instance, we involuntarily blink our eyes everyday, and although this is an action of real motion, apparent motion plays its part by filling in the blanks of blackness or darkness when blinking occurs. Furthermore, the theory then can translate to: the whole experience of sensation and perception is greater than the sum of individual parts of sensation and perception.

The theories of Gestalt help to explain extraordinary circumstances and phenomena’s of perception that are experienced in life, whether that may be visual or auditory illusions as well. In particular, apparent motion is a more specific area of study in Gestalt theory which touches upon this psychological and perceptual experience. Apparent motion previously studied suggests that it “may result when stationary stimuli are presented sequentially to different retinal locations. Apparent motion is inferred from information about change in position. (Green, 1983).”The successive presentation elicits an impression of motion (Sato, 1989).” “The perception of motion depends on the integration of visual information over space and time.(Snowden, 1990).”

This information subsequently leads to the research question to pursue of: does speed effect the quality of apparent motion perceived in a flipbook? It may seem like a simple question to ask, but also factoring in a questionnaire, participant feelings, two flipbooks of with two speed settings of slow and fast, and different colored pages can lead to possible, unsuspecting findings about the phenomena of apparent motion; which has mostly been individually considered in previous studies. There has been many studies on dot patterns, biological factors, vision, sound perception, and real motion in relation to apparent motion.

So, this experiment is quite different than the usual, although it may be as simple as using a flipbook and participants. However, previous studies helped strengthen the answers of the research question and hypothesis. Therefore, supporting studies reported by Gepshstein and Kubovy (2007) suggest that: for every speed, there “exists a condition for which contrast sensitivity is maximal.” They also found results that determined speed concludes the regime of motion; which can strengthen the hypothesis of speed effecting apparent motion being perceived.


Participants. Seven participants from Connecticut participated in an independent research project concerning a class of psychological sensation and perception. There were four males and three females who had normal to corrected vision. Participants ranged from 21 to 52 years of age. Materials. Two hand drawn flipbooks were created by using bamboo paper and binder clips. A Likert rating scale was used as the method of answering questions. Design and Analysis. The experiment was a 2 (sequence: flipbook A and flipbook B or flipbook B and flipbook A) X 2(speed: fast or slow) design with four questions manipulated between subjects. There were two independent variables in this study, which were the flipbooks and the questions. The flipbooks had two levels of fast and slow; the fast flipbook (A) consisted of all the same colored paper and an image of a ball in different locations on the ascending pages.

The slow flipbook (B) had different colored pages of paper on every other page, on every other page there was not any image drawn on it. This flipbook had a drawing of a stick figure walking and bumping into a wall. The dependent variable was the effect of speed quality through the obtained scores from participants from the questionnaire. Since there were not many participants available for this experiment, it was necessary to counterbalance the conditions.

The first participant seen the fast flipbook first, then took the Likert scale questionnaire; secondly, the slow flipbook was shown to the first participant afterwards and then answering the questionnaire. The second participant was shown the slow flipbook first, then took the questionnaire, following that the fast flipbook was shown second and then the questionnaire was answered. The questionnaire was made up of four questions. This would continuously go on from participant to participant until the last, seventh participant. From these factors, a two-way, within-subjects ANOVA of within-subjects was the design


Participants were seated at a table and were informed that they would be participating in an experiment and to answer all questions honestly. Then, the first flipbook was presented to the participant by the experimenter whom operated both of the flip books which accurately set the speeds. This happened continuously until the last participant. There were two trials of this experiment, which consisted of showing a fast flipbook (A) and slow flipbook (B). Upon completion of watching each flipbook, participants were questioned about their experience by using the Likert Scale rating. The responses were collected and recorded in Microsoft Excel and IBM SPSS 20. The experiment lasted about 35 minutes. Results

The main effect of flipbook responses for flipbook A (fast) had a mean of M=3.36. The responses for flipbook B (slow) had a mean of M=2.14 (see table 1 and figure 1). A two-way, within-subjects ANOVA illustrated that the difference between the mean of flip book A and flipbook B was statistically significant; F(1,6)=12.892, p<0.05. The error bars represent the standard error of means (SEM) and flipbook A SEM=0.31 and flipbook B SEM=0.51.The main effect of flipbook was significant due to speed manipulation. Flipbook A had the highest score of the two, which made it the fastest and flipbook B the slowest.

The main effect of questions (see table 2 and figure 2) response for question 1 had a mean of M=2.43. Question 2 had a mean of M=2.57, question 3 had a mean of M=2.07, and question 4 had a mean of M=3.93. Based on a two-way, within-subjects ANOVA, the results showed the questions were a statistically significant factor of the experiment; F(3,18)=3.627, p<0.05. However, the questions as well differed irrespective of speed quality (Q4A/B). This showed the differences among the four question conditions were impactful in determining other factors such as animation realness (Q1A/B), enjoyment (Q2A/B), and smoothness (Q3A/B).

| Table 2: main effect of questions| | |
| Q1 Mean| Q2 Mean| Q3 Mean| Q4 Mean|
Mean| 2.43| 2.57| 2.07| 3.93|
SD| 2.31| 1.87| 2.27| 2.13|
SEM| 0.62| 0.50| 0.61| 0.57|

The interaction effect between the flipbooks (shown in figure below) and the questions showed that in flipbook A the mean values for the questions were as the following: Question 1 mean M=2.57, question 2 mean M=1.71, question 3 mean M=4.14, question 4 mean M=5.00. In flipbook B the mean values for are as follows: Question 1 mean M=2.29, question 2 mean M=3.43, question 3 mean M=0.00, and question 4 mean M=2.86. This shows that the interaction between the flipbooks and questions were highly significant and falls on a boundary
as reported by the two-way, within-subjects ANOVA; F(3,18)=8.144, p=0.001. However, the questions differed irrespective of the speed. The questions received different scores, however not too different to make it insignificant. It had nothing to do with the speed manipulation; rather it showed the differences among the four question conditions were impactful in determining other factors such as realness (Q1A/B), enjoyment (Q2A/B), and smoothness (Q3A/B).

Q1 asked about the realness of the animations and they were perceived as real regarding both. The scores show that flipbook A was a little more real than flipbook B by a 0.28 difference of interaction. Q2 asked about the enjoyment of the flipbook and showed that flipbook B was more enjoyable than flipbook A by a 1.72 difference of interaction. Q3 showed that flipbook A was most smooth than flipbook B, and that flipbook B had no perceived smoothness. Q4 showed that speed mattered and affected the quality most in flipbook A, and flipbook B had the slowest speed of the two. The impact of experimental manipulation has shown to be significant between the two independent variables of flipbooks and questions.


The hypothesis in question was to discover if speed affects the quality of apparent motion perceived in a flipbook through research and experimentation. Results indicate that the hypothesis was supported because speed did matter according to the findings. Gepshtein & Kubovy (2007) indicated that motion was not always seen along the slower path.

It was interesting to find out that the slower flipbook was determined to be most enjoyable in this experiment when interactions were looked at (see figure 3). In Gepshtein & Kubovy’s study, they challenged Wallach’s previous study about low-speed assumption, which viewed low speed as prevailing when in competition with faster speeds. However, the results of their existing theory and experiments that challenged Wallach’s found that the ratio of two speeds were always less than unified. Which means motion was not always seen along the slower path. These results may be different because of altering procedures between the two studies, but the most current research conducted by them indicates what is most rationale when deterring speed effectiveness.

In flipbook B, every other page was a different color. The pages that had different colors also did not have any drawings or images on them This was a technique used to find out more through speed manipulation. In a previous study, Giaschi and Anstis (1989) reported that “apparent motion created by two spots illuminated in alternation looks faster when there is a dark temporal interval between the offset of one spot and the onset of the other than when spots are presented immediately after one another, even though the temporal frequency and spatial seperation spots are held constant.” This helped to support the added feature of flipbook B, which had alternating, darker colored pages. This can be a potential reason as to why the flipbook was most enjoyable than the fast flipbook A; this finding can be a contributing factor for the real world because it can often be assumed that if things move fast (er), then it is better or more enjoyable.

On the contrary, it can be more desirable for things to be slowed down, even if by a few seconds, so to give an audience more time to process and comprehend what is happening. It can also aid in exposing people to pay more attention to detail and to be more particular in such a fast paced society. Although slow motion may often be seen as less effective, this does not mean it is less important. Gephstein & Kubovy’s study contrasted with Wallach’s theory, but Wallach’s findings occurred between the 1930’s and 1970’s, so in more earlier and previous times his participants may have been more accustomed to slower occurrences; compared to the 21st century’s faster moving conditions.

Although the hypothesis was supported by the findings and other scholarly studies, it can as well be assumed that the results could be better and stronger if there were not any major limitations of the experiment. Limitations such as not having a not having the desired facilities and equipment; for instance, in a laboratory designated only for participants or equipment such as MRI machines to factor in brain functioning and perception. It would have also been nice to have more time to conduct this study over months or even years. The use of mathematical equations and theories might have been important. Being able to have a wide range of participants would be of importance so to look at education level, gender, race, and age to see if those factors bring about any disadvantages, advantages, patterns and/or similarities.

Having multiple speeds would have been interesting to add into the experiment. Taking into consideration the amount of pages and certain colors which could effect perception further. Lastly, having considered the son and mother used in the experiment would be interesting to learn if there is some sort of similarities and/or differences between parents and their children. In the future these can be improved so to come across more findings, unsuspecting conditions and/or disregarding current information for a more updated viewpoint.

The experiment may have been effected by error, such as by participant misunderstanding or misleading answers that may have been more desirable than another. It may have been an error to counterbalance conditions and control the experiment in that way by manipulating speed and sequence of the flipbooks. There was not much mathematics involved so there were no errors of numbers and data, but the procedure as mentioned potentially could have been.

Cumulatively, Gestalt’s theory ties all of this information in to help better understand why we perceive the way we do and how we perceive this, as mentioned in the Introduction. When we see the world as one entire picture rather than one individual part, it assists in humans having an overall pleasurable experience when viewing, perceiving, and sensing the world. Apparent motion strengthens our abilities to think fast and fill in all of the blanks necessary to cumulatively understand any myriad of circumstances. As mentioned in the Introduction, blinking can fill in the blanks that our visual system processes in order to elude an illusionary, motion picture so to view the world as a whole, and not by just parts.

This is a concept important to understand and cherish when applied to daily lives because it can help to be appreciative that we view the world so concisely and promptly, when in reality it is not as fast paced as assumed. Concerning flipbook B (slow), it could be advantageous to notice individual parts leading to better comprehension, when noticing entireties. All in all, there are interrelated factors which tie speed, space, time, apparent motion, real motion, perception, and sensation into many theories of Gestalt. One without the other would not be as effective as when all used wholly.

1. Gepshtein, S., & Kubovy, M. (2007). The lawful perception of apparent motion. Journal of Vision, 7(8), 1-15. 2. Giaschi, D., & Anstis, S. (1989). The less you see it, the faster it moves: Shortening the “on-time” speeds up apparent motion, Vision Research, Volume 29, Issue 3. 3. Green, Marc. Inhibition and facilitation of apparent motion by real motion, Vision Research, Volume 23, Issue 9, 1983, Pages 861-865. 4. Sato, Takao. Reversed apparent motion with random dot patterns, Vision Research, Volume 29, Issue 12, 1989, Pages 1749-1758, ISSN 0042-6989, 10.1016/0042-6989(89)90157-0. 5. Snowden, R. J., Braddick, O., J. (1990) Differences in the processing of short-range apparent motion at small and large displacements, Vision Research, 1211-1222. Volume 30, Issue 8.

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