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Regulatory conflict can emerge when people experience a strong motivation to act on goals but a conflicting inclination to withhold action because physical resources available, or physiological potentials, are low. This study demonstrated that distance perception is biased in ways that theory suggests assists in managing this conflict. Participants estimated the distance to a target location. Individual differences in physiological potential measured via waist-to-hip ratio interacted with manipulated motivational states to predict visual perception. Among people low in physiological potential and likely to experience regulatory conflict, the environment appeared easier to traverse when motivation was strong compared with weak. Among people high in potential and less likely to experience conflict, perception was not predicted by motivational strength. The role of motivated distance perception in self-regulation is discussed. 2013 APA, all rights reserved


Shana Cole, Emily Balcetis, Sam Zhang. Visual perception and regulatory conflict: motivation and physiology influence distance perception. Journal of experimental psychology. General. 2013 Feb;142(1):18-22

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PMID: 22449101

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