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For the atmospheric refraction phenomena, see Looming and similar refraction phenomena.
For the periodical, see Looming (journal).

Looming is a term found in the study of perception, as it relates directly to psychology. Looming refers to the rapid expansion in the size of any given image. As the image becomes increasingly large on the perceiver's retina, i.e., when an object looms, there is an automatic physiological response to perceive the object as an approaching object or surface, instead of one that is stationary or receding. The type of mirage described as looming, in which distant objects appear much nearer than they actually are, is explained in the same way as the image of the ship, except that the image is not inverted; the density variations may also act as a magnifying glass.

See also[edit]


  • Schiff, W., Caviness, J.A., & Gibson, J.J. "Persistent fear responses in rhesus monkeys to the optical stimulus of 'looming'." Science, 1962, 136, 982-983.
  • Schiff, W., "Perception of impending collision; a study of visually directed avoidant behavior." Psychological Monographs, 1965, 79 Whole #604.