Standard Article

Depth Perception

  1. Cedar Riener,
  2. Dennis Proffitt

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0265

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Riener, C. and Proffitt, D. 2010. Depth Perception. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Virginia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


How do people perceive the three-dimensional qualities of the world and the objects in it? Most investigators believe that the primary information for perception is the images projected onto our retinas. The problem of depth perception would thereby seem to be intractable; our visual system gets information limited to two dimensions (the projected retinal images), which does not uniquely determine any single three-dimensional characteristics of the world. Yet we somehow perceive the three-dimensional world that made those projections, and quite accurately in most circumstances. The two-dimensional images are inherently ambiguous as to size and distance (e.g., large objects that are distant create the same projection as small objects that are close) as well as orientation (a rectangle and a trapezoid can both create the same retinal projection). People solve this problem, called the inverse projection problem, by combining four types of information, or depth cues: (1) oculomotor, (2) stereo, (3) pictorial, and (4) motion cues.


  • oculomotor;
  • stereo;
  • motion;
  • pictorial;
  • depth cues