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Schnall, S., Harber, K. D., Stefanucci, J. K., & Proffitt, D. R. (2008). Social support and the perception of geographical slant. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1246-1255.

The visual perception of geographical slant is influenced by physiological resources, such as physical fitness, age, and being physically refreshed. In two studies we tested whether a psychosocial resource, social support, can also affect the visual perception of slants. Participants accompanied by a friend estimated a hill to be less steep when compared to participants who were alone (Study 1). Similarly, participants who thought of a supportive friend during an imagery task saw a hill as less steep than participants who either thought of a neutral person or a disliked person (Study 2). In both studies, the effects of social relationships on visual perception appear to be mediated by relationship quality (i.e., relationship duration, interpersonal closeness, warmth). Artifacts such as mood, social desirability, and social facilitation did not account for these effects. This research demonstrates that an interpersonal phenomenon, social support, can influence visual perception.

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