autokinetic effect


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au·to·ki·net·ic ef·fect

in psychology, the apparent drifting about of a small, fixed, spot of light that is being observed in a dark room.

autokinetic effect

The misperception of movement in a stationary object or source of light, which is due to saccadic movement of the eyes in response to low light, and misinterpreted as movement of the light source, as there are no other visible objects visible to which to relate the perceived movement.
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Air Force Research Laboratory scientists assess that after 6 to 12 seconds of visually fixating on a light, it appears to move up to 20 degrees per second in a particular direction or several directions in succession, and that the larger and brighter the object, the less the autokinetic effect.
For example, Sherif's (1937) studies of the autokinetic effect examined the emergence of group norms in an ambiguous situation.