||In this paper we propose that consumers use the direct distance (DD) between the end points of a path, or the distance "as the crow flies" as a source of information while making distance judgments -- such that the shorter the direct distance the shorter the distance estimate. We propose and test for two spatial features which affect direct distance -- path angularity (or the size of the angle between path segments) and path direction (or whether the path retraces back on itself or not). We demonstrate the direct distance bias over nine studies using different operationalizations, methods, contexts and types of subjects. Our results suggest that the DD bias is due to an (in)ability to ignore the perceptually salient direct distance: the bias increases in the presence of stimuli (Study 2), when subjects' attention is drawn to it as a judgmental input (Study 5), and for those subjects who do not have vivid visual images (Study 9). The use of DD as a judgmental input appears to be automatic (cf. Bargh 1989) in as much as it is effortless (Study 4), and difficult to control through increasing motivation (Study 7), or training subjects (Study 8), although it operates within conscious awareness (Study 5). Theoretical implications for the manner in which consumers process spatial information are discussed.