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Michael McBeath

Michael McBeath

Professor, Department of Psychology (Cognition, Action and Perception), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology
Arizona State University
PO Box 871104
Tempe, AZ 85287-1104


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Professor, Department of Psychology (Cognition, Action and Perception), College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Michael McBeath does research in the emerging area combining Psychology, Engineering, and Perception-Action. He majored in both psychology and electrical engineering for his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, received a Master of Science in electronic instrumentation from the University of California, and earned his doctoral degree from Stanford University in psychology with a minor in electrical engineering. Parallel to his academic career, he worked as a research scientist, both at NASA - Ames Research Center, and later at the Interval Corporation, a technology think tank funded by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. McBeath has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University since 1998, where he is also adjunct faculty in Kinesiology, Neuroscience, Life Sciences, Animal Behavior, Electrical Engineering, and the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering. His research has been funded by grants from the Interval Corporation, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research. His work focuses on computational modeling of perception-action in dynamic, natural environments, with specialties that span sports, robotics, music, navigation, animal behavior, and multisensory object perception. His most widely known work is on navigational strategies used by baseball players, animals, and robots. His baseball interception research was published in the journal, Science, his dog Frisbee study was made fun of on Saturday Night Live, and his autonomous ball-catching robot was selected by the New York Times Magazine as one of its ideas of the year. And he plays a mean harmonica.


  • PhD, Psychology (minor Electrical Engineering), Stanford University, 1990
  • MS, Electronic Instrumentation, University of California-Santa Barbara
  • BS, Psychology and Electrical Engineering, Brown University


Journal Articles


Krynen, R. C. and M. K. McBeath. 2019. Baseball's sight-audition farness effect (SAFE) when umpiring baserunners: Judging precedence of competing visual versus auditory events. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 45(1):67-81. DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000588. (link )

McBeath, M. K., J. D. Addie and R. C. Krynen. 2019. Auditory capture of visual apparent motion, both laterally and looming. Acta Psychologica 193(Feb):105-112. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.12.011. (link )

Tang, T. Y. and M. K. McBeath. 2019. Who hit the ball out? An egocentric temporal order bias. Science Advances 5(4):eaav5698. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav5698 Article. (link )


McBeath, M. K., T. Y. Tang and D. M. Shaffer. 2018. The geometry of consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 64(Sep):207-215. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.04.015. (link )

Patten, K. J., M. K. McBeath and L. C. Baxter. 2018. Harmonicity: Behavioral and neural evidence for functionality in auditory scene analysis. Auditory Perception & Cognition 1(3-4):150-172. DOI: 10.1080/25742442.2019.1609307. (link )

Scharine, A. A. and M. K. McBeath. 2018. Natural regularity of correlated acoustic frequency and intensity in music and speech: Auditory scene analysis mechanisms account for integrality of pitch and loudness. Auditory Perception & Cognition 1(3-4):205-228. DOI: 10.1080/25742442.2019.1600935. (link )


Wang, W., M. K. McBeath and T. G. Sugar. 2015. Navigational strategy used to intercept fly balls under real-world conditions with moving visual background fields. Attention, Perception, & Pychophysics 77:613-625. DOI: 10.3758/s13414-014-0797-x. (link )

Wang, W., M. K. McBeath and T. G. Sugar. 2015. Optical angular constancy is maintained as a navigational control strategy when pursuing robots moving along complex pathways. Journal of Vision 15(3):Art. 16. DOI: 10.1167/15.3.16. (link )


Dye, R. A., T. M. Crawford and M. K. McBeath. 2014. Absence of lateral navigational bias in young children. Perceptual and Motor Skills 119(1):292-300. DOI: 10.2466/10.22.PMS.119c18z3. (link )

Mennenga, S. E., L. C. Baxter, I. S. Grunfeld, G. A. Brewer, L. S. Aiken, E. B. Engler-Chiurazzi, B. W. Camp, J. I. Acosta, B. B. Braden, K. R. Schaefer, J. E. Gerson, C. N. Lavery, C. W. Tsang, L. T. Hewitt, M. L. Kingston, S. V. Koebele, K. J. Patten, B. H. Ball, M. K. McBeath and H. A. Bimonte-Nelson. 2014. Navigating to new frontiers in behavioral neuroscience: Traditional neuropsychological tests predict human performance on a rodent-inspired radial-arm maze. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:Art 294. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00294. (link )


Holloway, S. R. and M. K. McBeath. 2013. Independent objective timing tests designed to measure processing rates of the dorsal and ventral visual systems. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience 1(2):15-20.


Glenberg, A. M., G. Lopez-Mobilia, M. McBeath, M. Toma, M. Sato and L. Cattaneo. 2010. Knowing beans: Human mirror mechanisms revealed through motor adaptation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 4:Art 206. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2010.00206. (link )


Dolgov, I., D. A. Birchfield, M. K. McBeath, H. Thornburg and C. G. Todd. 2009. Amelioration of axis-aligned motion bias for active versus stationary judgments of bilaterally symmetric moving shapes’ final destinations. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 71:523-529. DOI: 10.3758/APP.71.3.523. (link )

Dolgov, I., D. A. Birchfield, M. K. McBeath, H. Thornburg and C. G. Todd. 2009. Perception of approaching and retreating floor-projected shapes in a large, immersive, multimedia learning environment. Perception and Motor Skills 108(2):623-630. DOI: 10.2466/pms.108.2.623-630. (link )

Dolgov, I., M. K. McBeath and T. Sugar. 2009. Evidence for axis-aligned motion bias: Football axis-trajectory misalignment causes systematic error in projected final destinations of thrown American footballs. Perception 38(3):399-410. DOI: 10.1068/p6114. (link )

Stone, J. P. and M. K. McBeath. 2009. Gender differences in distance estimates when exposed to multiple routes. Environment and Behavior 42(4):469-378. DOI: 10.1177/0013916509341790. (link )


McBeath, M. K., A. M. Nathan, A. T. Bahill and D. G. Baldwin. 2008. Paradoxical pop-ups: Why are they difficult to catch?. American Journal of Physics 76(8):723[\-729. DOI: 10.1119/1.2937899. (link )

Naylor, Y. K. and M. K. McBeath. 2008. Gender differences in spatial perception of body tilt. Perception & Psychophysics 70:199-207. DOI: 10.3758/PP.70.2.199. (link )

Schiano, D. J., M. K. McBeath and K. W. Chambers. 2008. Regularity of symmetry verticality guides perceptual judgments of objects.. American Journal of Psychology 121(2):209-227. DOI: 10.2307/20445457. (link )

Shaffer, D. M., M. K. McBeath, S. M. Krauchunas and T. G. Sugar. 2008. Evidence for a generic interceptive strategy. Perception & Psychophysics 70:154-157. DOI: 10.3758/PP.70.1.145. (link )


Oberle, C. D., N. K. Hollums, M. K. McBeath and D. P. Terry. 2006. Motion by nearby players biases perception but not action in judgments of baseball destination. Perception and Motor Skills 103(2):585-606. DOI: 10.2466/pms.103.2.585-606. (link )

Sugar, T. G., M. K. McBeath, A. Suluh and K. Mundhra. 2006. Mobile robot interception using human navigational principles: Comparison of active versus passive tracking algorithms. Autonomous Robots 21:43-54. DOI: 10.1007/s10514-006-8487-8. (link )

Sugar, T. G., M. K. McBeath and Z. Wang. 2006. A unified fielder theory for interception of moving objects either above or below the horizon. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 13:908-917. DOI: 10.3758/BF03194018. (link )


Dolgov, I. and M. K. McBeath. 2005. A signal-detection-theory representation of normal and hallucinatory perception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28(6):761-762. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X05260132. (link )

McBeath, M. K. and T. G. Sugar. 2005. Natural selection of asymmetric traits operates at multiple levels. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28(4):605-606. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X05390108. (link )

Oberle, C. D., M. K. McBeath, S. C. Madigan and T. G. Sugar. 2005. The Galileo bias: A naive conceptual belief that influences people's perceptions and performance in a ball-dropping task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 31(4):643-653. DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.31.4.643. (link )

Shaffer, D. M. and M. K. McBeath. 2005. Naive beliefs in baseball: Systematic distortion in perceived time of apex for fly balls. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 31(6):1492-1501. DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.31.6.1492. (link )


Shaffer, D. M., S. M. Krauchunas, M. Eddy and M. K. McBeath. 2004. How dogs navigate to catch frisbees. Psychological Science 15(7):437-441. DOI: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00698.x. (link )


Shaffer, D. M., M. K. McBeath, W. L. Roy and S. M. Krauchunas. 2003. A linear optical trajectory informs the fielder where to run to the side to catch fly balls. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 29(6):1244-1250. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.29.6.1244. (link )


McBeath, M. K. and J. G. Neuhoff. 2002. The Doppler effect is not what you think it is: Dramatic pitch change due to dynamic intensity change. Psychomonic Bulletin & Review 9:306-313. DOI: 10.3758/BF03196286. (link )

Scharine, A. A. and M. K. McBeath. 2002. Right-handers and Americans favor turing to the right. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 44(2):248-256. DOI: 10.1518/0018720024497916. (link )

Shaffer, D. M. and M. K. McBeath. 2002. Baseball outfielders maintain a linear optical trajectory when tracking uncatchable fly balls. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Peformance 28(2):335-348. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.28.2.335. (link )


Sugar, T. and M. McBeath. 2001. Robotic modeling of mobile ball-catching as a tool for understanding biological interceptive behavior. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24(6):1078-1080. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X01530125. (link )


Chambers, K. W., M. K. McBeath, D. J. Schiano and E. G. Metz. 1999. Tops are more salient than bottoms. Perceptions & Psychophysics 61:625-635. DOI: 10.3758/BF03205535. (link )

Neuhoff, J. G., M. K. McBeath and W. C. Wanzie. 1999. Dynamic frequency change influences loudness perception: A central, analytic process. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 25(4):1050-1059. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.25.4.1050. (link )


McBeath, M. K. and K. Morikawa. 1997. Forward-facing motion biases for rigid and nonrigid biologically likely transformations. Perceptual and Motor Skills 85(3):1187-1193. DOI: 10.2466/pms.1997.85.3f.1187. (link )

Neuhoff, J. G. and M. K. McBeath. 1997. Overcoming naïve mental models in explaining the Doppler shift: An illusion creates confusion. American Journal of Physics 65(7):618-621. DOI: 10.1119/1.18618. (link )


Neuhoff, J. G. and M. K. McBeath. 1996. The Doppler illusion: The influence of dynamic intensity change on perceived pitch. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 22(4):970-985. DOI: 10.1037/0096-1523.22.4.970. (link )


McBeath, M. K., D. M. Shaffer and M. K. Kaiser. 1995. How baseball outfielders determine where to run to catch fly balls. Science 268(5210):569-573. DOI: 10.1126/science.7725104. (link )

McBeath, M. K., D. M. Shaffer and M. K. Kaiser. 1995. Play ball! Response. Science 268(5218):1683-1685. DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5218.1683-a. (link )


McBeath, M. K., K. Morikawa and M. K. Kaiser. 1992. Perceptual bias for forward-facing motion. Psychological Science 3(6):362-267. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1992.tb00048.x. (link )

Morikawa, K. and M. K. McBeath. 1992. Lateral motion bias associated with reading direction. Vision Research 32(6):1137-1141. DOI: 10.1016/0042-6989(92)90014-A. (link )


McBeath, M. K. 1990. The rising fastball: Baseball's impossible pitch. Perception 19(4):545-552. DOI: 10.1068/p190545. (link )


McBeath, M. K. and R. N. Shepard. 1989. Apparent motion between shapes differing in location and orientation: A window technique for estimating path curvature. Perception & Psychophysics 46:333-337. DOI: 10.3758/BF03204986. (link )


Evans, C. S., S. J. Galoni and M. K. McBeath. 1985. A microcomputer system for the measurement of avian heart rate. Bird Behavior 6(1):41-45. DOI: 10.3727/015613885792335329. (link )



Fountain, S. B., M. D. Bunsey, J. H. Danks and M. K. McBeath eds. 2002. Animal Cognition and Sequential Behavior: Behavioral, Biological, and Computational Perspectives. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Norwell, MA. ISBN: 978-0792375906.


Danks, J. H., G. M. Shreve, S. B. Fountain and M. K. McBeath eds. 1997. Cognitive Processes in Translation and Interpreting. SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN: 978-0761900542.

Book Chapters


McBeath, M. K. 2018. Natural regularities and coupled predictive perceptual and cognitive biases: Why we evolved to systematically experience spatial illusions. Pp. 276-294 In: Hubbard, T. L. ed., Spatial Biases in Perception and Cognition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1107154988.


Dolgov, I., M. K. McBeath and T. G. Sugar. 2005. The influence of symmetry on perception of thrown, oblong, symmetrical projectiles in 3D. Pp. 132-135 In: Heft, H. and K. L. Marsh eds., Studies in Perception & Action VIII. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Mahwah, NJ. ISBN: 978-0805855531.

Conference Papers


Wang, Z., A. Paranjape, T. G. Sugar and M. K. McBeath. 2006. Perceptual navigation strategy for mobile robots intercepting ground balls. Pp. 2713-2718 Proceedings 2006 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. ICRA 2006, 15-19 May 2006. Orlando, FL. (link )