A study has revealed that architects, painters and sculptors think of spaces in different ways from not only the others, but also each other.
The findings revealed, when asked to talk about images of places, painters are more likely to describe the depicted space as a two-dimensional image, while architects are more likely to focus on paths and the boundaries of the space.
Senior study author Dr Hugo Spiers, from the University College London, said that painters, sculptors and architects consistently showed signs of their profession when talking about the spaces and all three groups had more elaborate, detailed descriptions than people in unrelated professions.
The team brought in 16 people from each of the three professions and they all had at least eight years of experience and included Sir Anthony Gormley - alongside 16 participants without any relevant background, who acted as controls.
The participants were presented with a Google Street View image, a painting of St. Peter's Basilica, and a computer-generated surreal scene.
They had to describe the environment and explain how they would explore the space and suggest changes to the environment in the image.
The painters tended to shift between describing the scene as a 3D space or as a 2D image.
The architects were more likely to describe barriers and boundaries of the space, and used more dynamic terms, while sculptors' responses were between the two.
The painters and architects also differed in how they described the furthest point of the space, as painters called it the 'back' and architects called it the 'end' and lacked expert terminology.
"Our study has provided evidence that your career may well change the way you think. There's already extensive research into how culture changes cognition, but here we've found that even within the same culture, people of different professions differ in how they appreciate the world," said Spiers.
The findings also raise the possibility that people who are already inclined to see the world as a 2D image, or who focus on the borders of a space, may be more inclined to pursue painting or architecture.
Artists and architects have a heightened awareness of their surroundings, which seems to have a deep influence on the way they conceive of space.
The study is published in the journal of Cognitive Science.