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Rafael Laboissière (Lab. Psychologie et NeuroCognition), Corinne Cian (IRBA), Grenoble

The prediction of object stability on earth requires the establishment of a perceptual frame of reference based on the direction of gravity. Across three experiments, we measured the critical angle (CA) at which an object appeared equally likely to fall over or right itself. We investigated whether the internal representation of the gravity direction, biased by either simulated or real body tilt situations, influences in a similar fashion the judgment of stability. The rotating visual background deviated the CA estimation in the same direction as the perceived gravity direction. However, participants differently weigh visually-induced motion and visual orientation cues when estimating the stability of objects. In the real tilt situation, the orientation of the body affects the perception of gravity direction but has no effect on the estimated CA. One possible reason for this difference is that the moving visual field has the potential to induce spatial disorientation.