Pyschology professor wins early career award

A Colorado State University professor was honored recently by a national organization for her research in understanding how our actions shape our perceptions and vice versa.

The Psychonomic Society named Jessica Witt, a professor of psychology, as the recipients of its 2014 Steven Yantis Early Career Award at its annual meeting in Long Beach, Calif. The award is given to “young scientists who have made significant contributions to scientific psychology early in their careers.” Jessica Witt award

Kurt Kraiger, head of the Department of Psychology, said that description fits Witt whose research focuses on how different populations perceive objects and spatial relations.

Witt was on a team that discovered that athletes who are performing better than others see the target as bigger and as moving slower.  She also found that high-scoring field goal kickers view the goal area as larger and that people holding guns are more likely to perceive others as holding guns – even when the viewed item was a harmless object such as a shoe.

“Jessi’s research has led to a better understanding of how our actions influence our perceptions, a critical component to how our minds work,” Kraiger said.

On its website, the Psychonomic Society stated that “Dr. Witt’s innovative and influential research program investigates how action shapes perception. Her research shows that perception is action-specific by demonstrating that people’s ability to perform particular actions influences how they perceive the size, speed, and distance of objects.”