Recognition thresholds for plane-rotated pictures of familiar objects

Rebecca Lawson, University of Liverpool

Pierre Jolicoeur, University of Waterloo

We investigated picture plane rotation effects on the minimum stimulus duration required to recognise pictures of familiar objects in a picture–word verification task. Participants made unspeeded responses, selecting from 126 written alternatives. Longer stimulus durations were needed to identify plane-misoriented views. These orientation effects were non-linear, arguing against a simple mental rotation account of compensation for plane misorientation in identi- fication tasks. Orientation effects were found for almost all items, in particular including those labelled at the basic level (cf. Hamm, McMullen, 1998, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 24, 413–426). We suggest that plane misorientation increases the difficulty of basic level as well as subordinate level identification unless only a small, visually dissimilar set of stimuli are presented. Errors in the task were analysed to provide an alternative, objective measure of perceived visual similarity, by assessing the number and nature of mistaken identifications made to a given target object. We propose that misorientation effects are best understood in terms of the effects of the perceived visual similarity of a target to its set of response alternatives rather than in terms of the level (basic or subordinate) at which the target is to be identified.

Acta Psychologica, (2003), 112, 17–41