Masamitsu Harasawa; Yasuhito Sawahata; Kazuteru Komine; Satoshi Shioiri

Effects of content and viewing distance on the preferred size of moving images

publication date
March 2020
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While visual size preferences regarding still objects have been investigated and linked to the “canonical size” effect—where preferred on-screen size was significantly related to objects’ real-world size—the visual size preferences related to moving images of natural scenes has not been researched. In this study, we measured the preferred size of moving images of natural scenes and short duration and investigated the effect of viewing distance on size preferences. Our results showed that the preferred size varied strongly depending on content, and we found moving images’ canonical size effect. The preferred size in images of scenery was significantly larger than in images of persons, and there was a positive correlation between the preferred size and the real-world physical size of the main subjects in the images. When the viewing distance was doubled, the preferred size increased about 10% as a ratio to screen size—in contrast to the findings of a previous study. While the rationale for these findings is not yet clear, our analysis suggests that neither the motion component in the images nor the nature of their background area are contributing factors. We suggest that environment, viewing distance, and screen size may contribute to this effect.


We measured the preferred physical size of short-duration moving images presented on a large high-resolution display at two different viewing distances, namely 0.75 and 1.5 times the height of the monitor. The results showed that the preferred size of the images varied strongly depending on their content; in particular, the real-world physical size of the main object contained in the images seemed to be involved in the participants’ preferences. The preferred size at the longer viewing distance was 10% larger than at the shorter viewing distance. This difference was not observed in previous research on size preference using still images of single objects. The detailed rationale of such a trend was not elucidated; however, the presumed cause would not be related to the content of images, motion component, or background area but to the environment, viewing distance, and screen size.

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