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The picture superiority effect, i.e. better memory for pictures than for corresponding words, has been variously ascribed to a conceptual or a perceptual processing advantage. The present study aimed to disentangle perceptual and conceptual contributions. Pictures and words were tested for recognition in both their original formats and translated into participants´ second language. Multinomial Processing Tree (Batchelder & Riefer, 1999) and MINERVA (Hintzman, 1984) models were fitted to the data, and parameters corresponding to perceptual and conceptual recognition were estimated. Over three experiments, orienting tasks were varied, with neutral (Exp 1), semantic (Exp. 2), and perceptual (Exp. 3) instructions, and the encoding manipulations were used to validate the parameters. Results indicate that there is picture superiority in both conceptual and perceptual memory, but conceptual processing makes a stronger contribution to the advantage of pictures over words in recognition.
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Conceptual and perceptual factors in the picture
superiority effect
Georg Stenberg
Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden
The picture superiority effect, i.e., better memory for pictures than for correspond-
ing words, has been variously ascribed to a conceptual or a perceptual processing
advantage. The present study aimed to disentangle perceptual and conceptual
contributions. Pictures and words were tested for recognition in both their original
formats and translated into participants’ second language. Multinomial Processing
Tree (Batchelder & Riefer, 1999) and MINERVA (Hintzman, 1984) models were
fitted to the data, and parameters corresponding to perceptual and conceptual
recognition were estimated. Over three experiments, orienting tasks were varied,
with neutral (Exp. 1), semantic (Exp. 2), and perceptual (Exp. 3) instructions, and
the encoding manipulations were used to validate the parameters. Results indicate
that there is picture superiority in both conceptual and perceptual memory, but
conceptual processing makes a stronger contribution to the advantage of pictures
over words in recognition.
The fact that pictures are generally better remembered than words has been
known for a long time (Kirkpatrick, 1894). The picture superiority effect in
memory applies to both recall and recognition (Madigan, 1983; Paivio,
1991). In picture recognition, performance can reach astounding levels. In
one study (Standing, Conezio, & Haber, 1970), participants studied over
2000 pictures at a rate of 10 seconds each, and were over 90% accurate in a
recognition test several days later. Although picture superiority over words is
a reliable and reproducible phenomenon, it is constrained by some limiting
conditions. Both encoding tasks (Durso & Johnson, 1980) and retrieval
conditions (Weldon & Roediger, 1987) have been shown capable of
abolishing or reversing picture superiority. The exploration of its boundary
conditions, as well as recent neuroscience investigations of picture and word
processing in the brain (Federmeier & Kutas, 2001; Kazmerski & Friedman,
Correspondence should be addressed to Georg Stenberg, School of Behavioural Sciences,
Kristianstad University, SE-291 88 Kristianstad, Sweden. E-mail:
This study was supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council. I am grateful to Sara
Denward for her help in running the experiments.
2006, 1
/35, PrEview article
2006 Psychology Press Ltd DOI: 10.1080/09541440500412361
1997; Ko
hler, Moscovitch, Winocur, & McIntosh, 2000; Schloerscheidt &
Rugg, 2004), have renewed interest in the picture superiority effect. In spite
of its long history, the phenomenon has not yet been given a universally
accepted explanation (for reviews, see Engelkamp & Zimmer, 1994;
Madigan, 1983).
Some theorising about the effect has drawn on the distinction between
perceptual and conceptual processing in memory (Jacoby, 1983). Because the
surface features of pictures are generally more varied and distinctive than
those of words, it has often been hypothesised that the memory effect can be
ascribed to those perceptual features. Drawings or paintings of, e.g., a horse
can offer an endless variety of colour, texture, perspective, and size, while still
preserving the meaning of the concept it illustrates, and all the different
varieties can offer many opportunities for distinctive memory encoding. The
possibilities of variation in pronunciation, accent, and timbre in a spoken
/or the varieties of typeface, style, and size in a printed word*/seem
meagre in comparison. The picture superiority effect could therefore be
based on richer perceptual encoding.
The idea that picture superiority in memory is closely linked to the
perceptual format in which study items are presented has been elaborated
upon in several theories. In Paivio’s dual-code theory (1971, 1986, 1991), two
memory stores are assumed to handle verbal and pictorial input separately.
The result is picture superiority, because pictures are often encoded in both
memory stores whereas words are not; pictures invoke naming upon study
more often than words invoke imagery. The use of two codes instead of one
seems likely to cause better memory performance, but it cannot be the only
explanation, because pictures are not always spontaneously named (Nelson
& Brooks, 1973), and pictures preserve their memory advantage even
without naming (Madigan, 1983). Therefore, a further assumption of
Paivio’s theory is that the image code is inherently better than the verbal
code in producing memory performance. In Paivio’s theory, the format of
the perceptual input has a decisive influence on how well an item will be
preserved in memory.
Other theories have not gone so far in connecting storage to perceptual
form. The sensory-semantic model (Nelson, Reed, & McEvoy, 1977) posits a
semantic store, in which the meanings of events are represented in a common
code, regardless of input format. Additionally, perceptual aspects of the
input are also stored, although in a code specific to the input format, be it
pictorial or verbal. It is in this sensory code that pictures particularly excel;
although picture superiority can be caused by both sensory and semantic
factors, sensory distinctiveness is suggested to be the more likely explana-
In sum, it seems to be a widely held view that the special surface
characteristics of pictures, in particular their perceptual distinctiveness, have
a lot to do with their memorability. Also, outside of the particular research
context of the picture superiority effect, recent memory research has come to
pay attention to the special importance of perceptual features. As shown by
findings in the field of implicit memory, retention of perceptual character-
istics may be very long-lasting (Jacoby & Dallas, 1981) and effective in
producing a sense of familiarity upon renewed acquaintance, even when
conscious recollection has faded (Mandler, 1980). The contribution of
perceptual fluency to the experience of memory can be substantial, and when
manipulated at test, it can create deceptive illusions of memory (Johnston,
Dark, & Jacoby, 1985; Whittlesea, 1993).
However, when applied to the picture superiority effect, the hypothesis of a
special role for perceptual features encounters a few problems. First, pictures
are not only better recognised, they are also better recalled (Madigan, 1983).
In other words, the particular perceptual format need not be present at test
for picture memorability to assert itself. Second, adding more perceptual
detail and complexity to pictures does not add appreciably to memory
performance in recognition. Nelson, Metzler, and Reed (1974) compared
recognition memory for detailed colour photographs, embellished or simple
line drawings, and words. The three types of pictures were all better
recognised than words, but the different degrees of complexity did not
make a difference. Third, in a direct test of the perceptual distinctiveness
hypothesis, Kinjo and Snodgrass (2000) compared within-form priming for
pictures and words. Using perceptual tasks (picture and word fragment
identification, calibrated for equal difficulty), they expected study of a picture
to facilitate identification of it in a degraded version, more so than the study
of a word would prime an equally degraded word. Basing this expectation on
the greater sensory distinctiveness of pictures, they nevertheless found only
weak support for it. Over three experiments, which varied the encoding task,
picture superiority in within-form priming was found in only one. The lack of
an implicit superiority effect was brought into relief by an explicit picture
superiority in the free recall tasks that concluded all three experiments.
The alternative view is that conceptual processing determines picture
superiority. In this approach, it is assumed that pictures are processed
semantically with a higher probability or higher efficiency than words are.
Given the mostly conceptual nature of explicit memory tests such as recall
and recognition, processing at test is better matched by similarly conceptual
processing at study, and this gives pictures an advantage, in accordance with
the principle of transfer appropriate processing (Weldon, Roediger, &
Challis, 1989).
A strength of this view is that it correctly predicts some constraints on the
picture superiority effect. If the test requires perceptual processing of words,
then studied words will be at an advantage relative to studied pictures
because of the overlap between processes at study and at test. Such a reversal
of the picture superiority effect has been observed in both implicit (Weldon
& Roediger, 1987) and explicit (Weldon et al., 1989) memory tasks requiring
word processing at test.
Analyses of the subjective experience of memory (Gardiner & Richard-
son-Klavehn, 2000) have indicated that it is sometimes accompanied by a
vivid sense of the full context (‘‘remember’’), and sometimes only a vague
sense of familiarity (‘‘know’’). The act of remembering is often thought to
require conceptual processing, and the finding that picture recognition is
accompanied by a higher proportion of ‘‘remember’’ responses than word
recognition can be interpreted as consistent with a higher degree of
conceptual processing for pictures (Rajaram, 1993).
The idea that conceptual processing of pictures is facilitated relative to
that of words is supported by findings from semantic memory retrieval tasks.
When pictures and words undergo speeded categorisation (e.g., as ‘‘living’’
or ‘‘dead’’), reaction times for pictures are often faster (Potter & Faulconer,
1975; Smith & Magee, 1980). An important role for conceptual factors in
episodic memory is indicated by data showing that when incomplete pictures
are shown, and memory performance is conditionalised on whether the
stimulus is given a meaningful interpretation by the participant or seen as a
meaningless pattern, subsequent recognition is better for those stimuli that
were given an interpretation (Wiseman & Neisser, 1974).
An opportunity for testing the conceptual-processing advantage of
pictures is provided by conceptual implicit tests, such as category exemplar
production or word association. The prediction of picture superiority in
such tasks was tested by Weldon and Coyote (1996), who found no support
for it. They concluded that conceptual processing does not provide pictures
with their undeniable explicit memory advantage*
/instead, visual distinc-
tiveness does.
There have been findings of picture superiority in conceptual implicit tests
(Nicolas, 1995; Vaidya & Gabrieli, 2000; Wippich, Melzer, & Mecklen-
braeuker, 1998), but they have mostly been confined to some encoding
conditions and some implicit memory tasks, but not others. Nicolas (1995)
found pictures to produce more priming than words in a category exemplar
production task. The findings of Wippich et al. (1998) are many-faceted, but
they include picture superiority on a conceptual implicit test. However, this
was found only with a shallow level of processing at study, and words
produced approximately equal amounts of priming with pictures after a deep
encoding task. Similarly, Vaidya and Gabrieli (2000) found picture super-
iority in a conceptual implicit test (category exemplar production), but only
after one encoding task (naming) and not another, presumably deeper task
(categorisation). Also, the type of implicit test proved to be important, with
only a production task producing picture
/word differences, and no
differences emerging in a more passive task (verification).
In summary, implicit tests have not produced unqualified support for the
idea that pictures undergo more conceptual processing. The expected pattern
tends to be produced primarily by shallow encoding tasks, and the outcome
of other encoding seems to be difficult to predict.
Computational modelling has been used to complement the information
provided by memory tests. McBride and Dosher (2002) separated conscious
from automatic contributions to the picture superiority effect by using a
variation of Jacoby’s (1991) Process Dissociation Procedure. A crucial
assumption of the study was that the distinction between conscious and
automatic processing coincides with that between conceptual and perceptual
processing. Studied pictures were pitted against studied words in a picture
fragment identification task (a perceptual, implicit test), a word fragment
completion task (perceptual, implicit), and a category exemplar production
task (conceptual, implicit). The purpose was to arrive at estimates of
conscious and automatic memory for pictures and words separately. In an
extension of the data analysis, multinomial models were fitted to the data.
With these estimates in hand, the authors could indirectly infer the
contributions from conceptual and perceptual processes to the picture
superiority effect. The results showed superiority for pictures in conscious,
hence conceptual, memory in all three tasks. Automatic, hence perceptual,
memory varied expectedly with the degree of correspondence between
encoding format and test format, being better for pictures in the picture
fragment task, and better for words in the word fragment task. In the
conceptual implicit memory task, there was an advantage for pictures in
both the conscious and the automatic component.
A central inference in McBride and Dosher’s (2002) study relies on the
general correspondence between conscious and conceptual processes, on the
one hand, and between automatic and perceptual processes, on the other. As
the authors point out, this correspondence is far from perfect, and
conceptual effects on some implicit tasks provide counterexamples (Toth
& Reingold, 1996). Thus, some processes in memory are both conceptual
and implicit. Indeed, there are also other processes that are both perceptual
and explicit, such as when a person is deliberately taking perceptual details
into account when making a source judgement.
Leaving aside this particular interpretation, the McBride and Dosher
study shows that computational modelling can separate factors in the
picture superiority phenomenon that are entwined in the directly observable
data. For present purposes, the hypothesised matching of perceptual and
conceptual features is not directly observable, because both processes
normally contribute to recognition. Modelling is one way of trying to
separate those different but intertwined processes. The general class of
Multinomial Processing Tree (MPT) models is applicable to this task, and it
has proved to be useful in many applications in memory (Batchelder &
Riefer, 1990; Riefer, Hu, & Batchelder, 1994) and in cognition generally
(Batchelder & Riefer, 1999; Riefer & Batchelder, 1988). MPT models hold an
intermediate place on a continuum of data analysis between, on the one
hand, the general-purpose statistical models normally used for null
hypothesis testing, and on the other hand, custom-built models, designed
for a special field of application, such as the memory models SAM,
MINERVA, and TODAM (Gillund & Shiffrin, 1984; Hintzman, 1984;
Murdock, 1993). With the general-purpose models, MPT models share
mathematical tractability and opportunities for relatively convenient hy-
pothesis testing. With the special-purpose models, they share a capacity to
be specific about cognitive processes, and a potential for making theoretical
assumptions explicit. Although typically not as elaborate about underlying
processes as the dedicated models, they still go some way towards specifying
the cognitive processing that gives rise to the observable data. In this
capacity, i.e., as a tool to discern latent variables, an MPT model was used in
this article. As a complement, and for comparison, a memory model of the
global matching kind (Clark & Gronlund, 1996) was applied to the same
data. Any of the four dominant models (SAM, MINERVA, TODAM, and
CHARM) could have served the purpose; MINERVA was chosen for
reasons of simplicity and accessibility. ‘‘MINERVA 2 is perhaps the most
impressive model, if only because it can do so much with so few assumptions
and parameters’’ (Neath, 1998, p. 248). In this study, the models will be used
solely as a data analysis tool; the purpose is not to make claims about the
general value and applicability of MPT models and MINERVA, singly or in
Implicit tasks have failed to provide a definitive answer to the question of
what causes the picture superiority effect in memory. Furthermore, implicit
memory is of questionable relevance to the issue of effects in explicit
memory. Therefore, the present study represents a return to an explicit task,
i.e., recognition. The correspondence between study and test can be varied in
a recognition task, for example by letting studied pictures be recognised as
words, and studied words as pictures. This crossover paradigm has been tried
in a few studies (Mintzer & Snodgrass, 1999; Stenberg, Radeborg, &
Hedman, 1995), where the purpose has been to pry apart perceptual and
conceptual influences by divorcing items at test from the format they had at
study. Using these methods, both the cited studies found results that cast
doubt on Paivio’s dual coding account of picture superiority.
An even more desirable state of affairs would be to test both studied
pictures and studied words on neutral ground, i.e., in a third format that
shares no perceptual characteristics with any of the two. For bilinguals, the
second language may offer such neutral ground. Testing studied concepts in
participants’ second language can give relatively unbiased estimates of the
conceptual memory strength of pictures and first-language words. Studies of
bilingual memory (reviewed by Francis, 1999) have indicated that first- and
second-language words refer to a shared conceptual representation. In the
present study, English-speaking Swedish students were given surprise
memory tests in English after studying lists of Swedish words or pictures.
A typical finding in the verbal memory literature is that deeper */i.e., more
/encoding leads to better retention. In picture memory this has
not always been the case. The levels of processing effect seems to apply only
in a limited sense to pictures as compared to words (D’Agostino, O’Neill, &
Paivio, 1977).
Orienting tasks that direct attention to image qualities of a concept favour
memory for words over pictures, and tasks that direct attention to verbal
qualities of a concept favour memory for pictures over words (Durso &
Johnson, 1980). This result has been replicated and located to the
recollective component of recognition (‘‘remember’’ as opposed to
‘‘know’’) by Dewhurst and Conway (1994). In other words, encoding that
requires a mental transformation of the stimulus (naming a picture, or
forming a mental image to a word) promotes better memory than passive
encoding, apparently an application of the generation effect.
In the present study, encoding manipulations meant to enhance either
conceptual or perceptual processing were used to verify that parameters in
the model showed the desired kind of sensitivity. An effort was made to
avoid confounds with the generation effect by using encoding instructions
that could be applied with equal effort to pictures and words.
The aim of this study was to assess the strength of conceptual and perceptual
contributions to the picture superiority effect in explicit memory. Pictures
and words were tested for recognition in both their original formats and
translated into participants’ second language. Models were fitted to the data,
and parameters corresponding to perceptual and conceptual recognition
were estimated. Over three experiments, orienting tasks were varied, so as to
emphasise conceptual encoding (Exp. 2), perceptual encoding (Exp. 3), or
neither (Exp. 1). The encoding manipulations were used to validate the
parameters estimated from modelling. If parameters designed to measure
conceptual recognition are enhanced by conceptual encoding, and if
parameters designed to measure perceptual recognition are correspondingly
enhanced by perceptual encoding, then more faith can be placed in the
A full (saturated) model was first fitted to the data. After that, restricted
models were fitted, i.e., models in which certain parameters were forced to be
equal to each other. In particular, we were interested in comparing the
parameters (i.e., probabilities of recognition) for pictures with those for
words. If probabilities of recognition for pictures and for words really were
different, such a forced equality would put notable strain on the model, and
the degree of misfit could be tested statistically. The main hypotheses were
that (1) the probability of perceptually based recognition is higher for
pictures than for words, (2) the probability of conceptually based recognition
is also higher for pictures than for words, and (3) the difference between
pictures and words is greater for conceptual recognition than for perceptual.
The purpose of the first experiment was to examine memory performance
for pictures and words, when encoding instructions were neutral, i.e.,
emphasising neither perceptual nor conceptual aspects.
Participants. Participants were 19 students at Va
University, who
took part for a small monetary compensation. (Sex and age were not
recorded in the data files of this experiment.) For the purposes of the study,
it was crucial that the meanings of the English words be fully understood by
the participants, although English was not their native language. The
participants were all Swedish university students, who were judged to have
an adequate command of English. Furthermore, the stimulus material
covered mostly everyday objects, the names of which are easily understood.
Still, to avoid distortions of the results, subjects were always given the
response alternative ‘‘I don’t understand the word’’, whenever an English
word was presented. This response option, which was used in 7%, 5%, and
7% of the trials in Experiments 1
/3, respectively, automatically discarded
the trial from further analysis.
Materials. The same stimulus material was used throughout all three
experiments. It consisted of colour drawings similar to the Snodgrass and
Vanderwart (1980) pictures, comprising 260 drawings of animals, tools,
furniture, vehicles, etc. The picture set, which has been produced by Bruno
Rossion and Gilles Pourtois (2004), is available on the Internet at http://
/tarr/stimuli.html. Swedish names were as-
signed to the pictures, and a subset of 200 items was selected, with a view
to avoiding culture-specific items (such as an oval American football).
Naming data for the original picture set are available in Snodgrass and
Vanderwart (1980). Samples of the pictures are shown in Figure 1.
Because the Swedish and English names of the pictures were to be used as
perceptually different labels for the same concept, an effort was made to
avoid cognates, i.e., pairs of words in the two languages with a close phonetic
and orthographic resemblance, for example elefant and elephant. However,
given the fact that English and Swedish are related languages, it was not
entirely possible to achieve that objective. In the selected set of 200 items,
22% can be judged to be cognates. The word pairs are listed in the Appendix,
along with their judged cognate status. To eliminate the possibility that the
results were produced by the cognate pairs, the results were recomputed with
all cognate stimuli excluded. To anticipate, all important aspects of the
results were retained in the subset of noncognate items.
The set of 200 items was divided into eight sets of 25 items each. An item
in this context refers to a concept (such as ‘‘horse’’), represented by three
tokens: an English word, a picture, and a Swedish word. The eight sets were
rotated in their assignments to use as target or as lure, or to being studied as
picture or as word, so that each item was used in all assignments equally
often across participants. Random order of presentation ensured that there
were no systematic effects of primacy or recency. The experiments were
programmed in E-prime (Psychology Software Tools, Inc.)
Procedure. The experimental session consisted of four study
blocks, given in random order (see Figure 1). One block (PP) presented
pictures during study, and the same pictures mixed with picture distractors
during test. Another block (WW) presented Swedish words for study, and,
likewise, Swedish words for test. Yet another block (PE) presented pictures
during study, and the corresponding English words, mixed with other
English distractors, during test. The fourth block (WE) presented Swedish
words for study and English words in the test.
There was a 30 s pause between blocks. In each block, 25 items were
presented for 2 s each. After an instruction screen, the test followed
immediately, using 50 items, each presented until there was a response, or
until 5 s had elapsed. Participants were to respond by pressing the ‘‘1’’ key
for ‘‘old’’ or ‘‘2’’ for ‘‘new’’ (or, in the case of English words, ‘‘3’’ for ‘dont
understand’’, see below). Feedback about the correctness of the response
was given after each item. Instructions for the study subblocks were varied
across experiments. In this experiment, instructions were just to watch the
stimuli and try to remember as much as possible. Instructions for the PE and
WE blocks explained that English words would be shown and that they were
to be recognised as old if they corresponded to a previously shown picture
(word). Examples were given to clarify the instruction. Participants were
Figure 1. Conditions: PP: picture /picture, WW: (Swedish) word /(Swedish) word, PE: picture /
English word, WE: (Swedish) word/English word. Samples of the stimulus material with pictures
from the material of Rossion and Pourtois (2004), set 3 (colour pictures).
tested in small groups (2/8), each seated individually in a booth with a
Data analysis. Effect sizes for within-subjects tests are reported as
partial eta squared, h
, which can be interpreted as the proportion of
variance accounted for by the effect: h
Results and discussion
Memory performance is shown in Table 1. Sensitivity was computed as d?
(Snodgrass & Corwin, 1988) for each of the four conditions and entered into
a two-way repeated measures ANOVA, with study
/test congruence as one
factor (two levels: original and translated), and study format as the other
(two levels: picture and word).
The results showed a powerful effect of study
/test congruence, F(1, 18)/
99.66, MSE /0.25, p B/.001, h
/.85, and a strong effect of study format,
F(1, 18)
/41.47, MSE /0.57, p B/.001, h
/.70, indicating better retention
of items studied as pictures. This picture superiority effect was not modified
by any interaction with study
/test congruence, F(1, 18) B/1, ns. Still, for
clarity, two separate t-tests were performed contrasting picture-studied and
word-studied items. The blocks with original-form testing (PP and WW)
showed picture superiority, t(18)
/6.25, SEM/0.19, p B/.001, and so did
the blocks with translated testing (PE and WE), t(18)
/4.08, SEM /0.26,
To assess whether cognates contributed to the pattern of effects, all tests
were recomputed with the cognate stimuli excluded. Both the effect of
congruence, F(1, 18)
/70.02, MSE/0.35, p B/.001, h
/.80, and of study
format, F(1, 18)
/33.20, MSE /0.54, p B/.001, h
/.65, remained highly
significant. There was still no interaction, F(1, 18)B
/1. The blocks with
original-form testing showed picture superiority, t(18)
/5.77, SEM /0.18,
Experiment 1: Memory performance after a neutral orienting task
Original Translated
Picture (PP) Word (WW) Picture (PE) Word(WE)
Hit rate .96 .82 .83 .64
False alarm rate .05 .14 .16 .25
d? 3.33 2.15 2.13 1.08
Effect size (h
) of picture superiority .68 .48
PP: picture
/picture; WW: Swedish word /Swedish word; PE: picture /English word; WE:
Swedish word
/English word.
pB/.001, as did the blocks with translated testing, t(18) /3.58, SEM /0.25,
The effect sizes (see Table 1) for the picture superiority effect were quite
substantial for both the original (h
/.68) and translated (h
/.48) tests.
Contrary to what could be expected if perceptual distinctiveness were the
sole carrier of the picture superiority effect, the effect survived transforma-
tion into a new format having little in common with the original study
format. Instead, and in conformity with the hypothesis of a semantic-access
effect, studied pictures seemed to carry with them a richer memory
representation, capable of being matched successfully against memory cues
in a new format. The degree of semantic encoding was manipulated in
Experiment 2, to examine whether picture superiority withstands the
improvement in word encoding.
The aim of Experiment 2 was to enhance semantic processing of the study
items by giving a semantic orienting task, because earlier studies have shown
smaller picture
/word differences, when encoding is deep (D’Agostino et al.,
Participants. Twenty students at Va
University participated and were
given a small monetary compensation. Ten were male (age 24.69
/4.0), and
ten were female (age 19.99
Procedure. Instructions in the study phase were to judge whether the item
shown was living (plants, animals, body parts, etc.) or dead (tools, furniture,
etc.). Participants responded by pressing the ‘‘1’’ or ‘2’’ keys. Unbeknownst
to them, these responses were not recorded. Instructions were otherwise the
same as in Experiment 1, as were all other aspects of the procedure.
Results and discussion
The results, which are presented in Table 2, were subjected to the same type
of analysis as those of Experiment 1.
The results again showed a clear effect of study
/test congruence, F(1,
/17.94, MSE /0.65, p B/.001, h
/.49, and an equally clear effect of
study format, F(1, 19)
/25.88, MSE /0.42, pB/.001, h
/.58, with better
memory for items studied as pictures. The effect was not qualified by any
interaction with study
/test congruence, F(1, 19)/1.68, ns. In the follow-up
t-tests, blocks with original-form testing (PP and WW) showed picture
superiority, t(19)
/4.24, SEM/0.19, pB/.001, as did blocks with translated
testing (PE and WE), t(19)
/3.21, SEM /0.21, p /.005.
Recalculation with cognate stimuli excluded showed the same pattern of
effects: Congruence, F(1, 19)
/19.11, MSE/0.68, pB/.001, h
/.50, and
study format, F(1, 19)
/26.46, MSE /0.39, p B/.001, h
/.58, had strong
effects, and there was no interaction, F(1, 19)
/1.03, ns. There was picture
superiority in both original-format, t(19)
/4.23, SEM /0.20, p B/.001, and
in translation, t(19)
/3.23, SEM /0.18, p /.004.
As in the first experiment, picture superiority prevailed, in both original
and translated forms. It did so even when the orienting task explicitly
directed attention to the semantic properties of the stimuli. Although still
considerable, the effect sizes were smaller than in Experiment 1. This seemed
to depend not so much on what happened to the encoding of pictures, but
rather on the sensitivity of word encoding to the orienting task. With a
semantic task, word performance improved enough to narrow the gap
To complete the manipulation of levels of processing, a further experi-
ment (Experiment 3) was conducted, in which the orienting task instead
promoted shallow, perceptual processing. This was expected to widen the
gap between picture and word recognition.
Shallow processing of words is often induced by directing attention to their
orthographic or phonemic properties. However, in the present study, it was
necessary to produce a task that could be applied to both pictures and
words, in the same way and with roughly the same difficulty. Therefore, a
new task was constructed that involved detecting changes in the spatial
orientation of a minor part of the stimulus. This was meant to focus
attention on the perceptual features of the stimuli.
Experiment 2: Memory performance after a semantic orienting task (abbreviations
as in Table 1)
Original Translated
Picture (PP) Word (WW) Picture (PE) Word (WE)
Hit rate .96 .86 .84 .73
False alarm rate .05 .12 .10 .13
d? 3.30 2.39 2.37 1.80
Effect size (h
) of picture superiority .49 .35
Participants. Nineteen students at Va
University participated and
were given a small monetary compensation. Eight were male (age 22.59
and eleven were female (age 21.99
Procedure. The general method was applied as before, with the following
exception. After the exposure of each stimulus in the study phase, the screen
was erased, and a narrow horizontal strip of the stimulus was redisplayed,
either mirror-reversed or not (see Figure 2). The task was to determine if the
strip was reversed. The purpose of this task was to direct attention to the
perceptual qualities of the stimulus during its initial, intact presentation (2 s,
as in the other experiments).
Technically, a horizontal segment of the display, extending across its
whole width (640 pixels), was saved to an off-screen memory buffer during
the initial presentation, and copied back to the otherwise cleared screen for a
2 s poststimulus display, during which participants responded. The
horizontal strip was centred on mid-screen; 50 pixels high for picture
stimuli, and 10 pixels high for words (proportions that were found to make
difficulty levels approximately equal). Strip height was chosen such as to
make judgements about orientation very difficult without recourse to the
memory image of the stimulus.
Results and discussion
The results, which are presented in Table 3, were submitted to the same type
of analysis as the earlier experiments. The results again showed a very strong
effect of study
/test congruence, F(1, 18)/126.99, MSE/0.34, p B/.001,
Figure 2. Examples of stimulus presentation in the study phase of Experiment 3. After the initial
display (2 s) of a picture or a word, the screen was blanked (0.3 s), and then a narrow horizontal
segment was redisplayed (2 s). The task was to determine whether the segment was mirror-reversed
or not.
/.88, and a similarly powerful effect of study format, F(1, 18)/95.04,
/0.30, pB/.001, h
/.84, with better memory for items studied as
pictures. There was a marginal tendency toward an interaction between the
factors, F(1, 18)
/3.81, MSE /0.20, p/.07. In the follow-up t-tests, blocks
with original-form testing (PP and WW) showed picture superiority, t(18)
9.69, SEM/0.15, p B/.001, as did blocks with translated testing (PE and
WE), t(19)
/5.87, SEM /0.17, pB/.001. The effect sizes were larger than in
the other experiments, mostly due to the poor performance for words.
Shallow processing seemed to impair word retention disproportionately,
widening the gap between pictures and words.
The tests were recomputed with all cognate stimuli excluded. The pattern
of effects was unchanged. Congruence had a strong effect, F(1, 18)
/0.39, pB/.001, h
/.87, as did study format, F(1, 18)/72.25,
/0.36, pB/.001, h
/.80. There was a tendency toward an interaction
between the factors, F(1, 18)
/3.42, MSE /0.26, p /.08. There was picture
superiority in both original format, t(18)
/9.13, SEM/0.15, p B/.001, and
in translated testing, t(19)
/4.62, SEM /0.21, p B/.001.
The encoding task seemed to be successful in directing attention to the
perceptual features of the stimuli, because recognition performance deterio-
rated in the translated conditions, as would be expected if less attention
could be devoted to semantic processing. It should be emphasised that the
orienting task could not be performed without close attention to the
perceptual qualities of the initial stimulus, because the redisplayed hor-
izontal fragment was too narrow to be identified as mirror-reversed on its
In a comparison across experiments, the recognition of pictures seemed
relatively resistant to changes in orienting task. Figure 3 shows memory
performance, in d?-units, as a function of study
/test condition (PP, WW, PE,
or WE) and orienting task (perceptual, neutral, or semantic). In the PP
condition, there was no increase (
/1% change) from the neutral to the
semantic encoding instructions, and no decrease (0%) from the neutral to the
Experiment 3: Memory performance after a perceptual orienting task (abbreviations
as in Table 1)
Original Translated
Picture (PP) Word (WW) Picture (PE) Word (WE)
Hit rate .96 .86 .82 .58
False alarm rate .05 .21 .26 .37
d? 3.31 1.89 1.61 0.59
Effect size (h
) of picture superiority .84 .66
perceptual task. In contrast, the WW condition showed that the encoding of
words was enhanced by semantic instructions (12%) and impaired by
perceptual instructions (
/12%), as could be expected from the vast
literature on levels of processing.
Similarly, in the translated conditions, the retention of words proved to be
greatly improved by the semantic task (
/68% change in the WE condition),
but the retention of pictures only modestly so (
/11% in the PE condition).
With a perceptual orienting task, performance for words declined drastically
/45%), whereas performance for pictures also declined markedly, but not
nearly as much (
/24%). The fact that items studied as pictures were
encoded efficiently was manifest in both the original and the translated
conditions. Picture recognition in the PP condition showed insensitivity to
the orienting task that could be a consequence of performance having
reached ceiling. In the PE condition, where there was no ceiling effect,
picture encoding was predictably affected by instruction conditions,
although less dramatically so than words.
For present purposes, a model was constructed in which perceptually based
recognition and conceptually based recognition were construed as separate
processes. The model is illustrated in Figure 4 for the PP condition. An old
(studied) item can be recognised by virtue of perceptual form with
probability fp. Failing that, it can instead be recognised on the basis of its
meaning, with probability sp. Failing that also, it can be called ‘‘old’’ based
on guessing. The bias parameter, bp, determines how likely this is to happen.
Figure 3. Recognition accuracy (d? ) across three experiments. Dark bars: Experiment 3
(perceptual orienting task). Hatched bars: Experiment 1 (neutral orienting task). Light bars:
Experiment 2 (semantic orienting task). Abbreviations PP, WW, PE, and WE as in Table 1.
All three of the described sequences lead to a hit, i.e., a studied item being
called ‘‘old’’. In contrast, an old item can be called ‘‘new’’ (a miss) if all three
selection processes come out negative, and this happens with probability
For a new item, the process is simpler. The item can be called ‘‘old’’ only
as a result of guessing, which leads to an incorrect response (a false alarm).
Alternatively, it can be called ‘‘new’’ with probability 1
/bp, a correct
rejection. This high-threshold assumption (i.e., all false alarms being a result
of guessing, never of, e.g., familiarity) is a typical part of MPT models of
The model has been described here for the original-pictures condition, PP,
but the case is exactly analogous for the WW condition, with the exception
that the parameters for that case are called fw, sw, and bw, instead of fp, sp,
and bp.
For the translated conditions, the recognition process is somewhat
different (see Figure 5, where the PE condition is illustrated). An old item,
i.e., an English word designating a studied picture, can be recognised based
on meaning with probability sp. Form-based recognition is not possible in
this condition. If semantic recognition fails, a correct response can be given
as a guess, with probability bpe. (Note that the bias parameter in this case,
bpe, is free to vary independently of bp, for the willingness to give an ‘‘old’’
response may very well be different in the more difficult PE condition from
that in PP.) The hit probability is, in other words, sp
/(1/sp)*bpe. An
incorrect response to an old item, a miss, can be given with probability (1
For new items, an ‘‘old’’ response to a new item (a false alarm) is delivered
with probability bpe.Acorrect rejection occurs with probability (1
/bpe). The
translated-word condition, WE, can be described in analogous terms,
substituting fw, sw, and bwe for fp, sp, and bpe.
Condition PP
bp 1–bp
False alarms Correct rejections
fp 1–fp
bp 1–bp
Hits Misses
Figure 4. Multinomial Processing Tree models for the PP (picture /picture) condition. At the root
are study conditions (studied/unstudied). From there on, branches marked by probability
parameters (e.g., sp ) lead to the leaves, i.e., the response categories, e.g., false alarms. Analogous
trees were constructed for the WW condition.
The processing tree model was specified and tested in the program GPT
(Hu & Phillips, 1999), available on the Internet at http://xhuoffice.psyc. With all eight parameters free to vary, the model was
fitted to the data, and the resulting parameter values are shown in Table 4.
Because there are as many free parameters as there are independently
observed categories, the model is saturated, and the fit was perfect, G
For ease of inspection, the four most important parameters (fp, sp, fw,
and sw) have been illustrated in Figure 6, where the experimental conditions
have been arranged in an increasing order of processing depth, from
Experiment 3 (perceptual), over Experiment 1 (neutral), to Experiment 2
The impression conveyed by Figure 6 is that the experimental manipula-
tions of orienting task were effective. Semantic recognition increased from
the perceptual to the semantic task, slightly for pictures (sp), and
dramatically for words (sw). Conversely, form-based recognition decreased
from the perceptual to the semantic task, somewhat for pictures (fp), and
False alarms
Condition PE
Correct rejections
sp 1sp
Hits Misses
Figure 5. Multinomial Processing Tree models for the PE (picture /English word) condition.
Branches leading from root to leaves are marked by transition probabilities *
/parameters of the
models *
/as in Figure 4. Analogous trees were constructed for the WE condition.
Fitted parameters of a full, and two restricted, Multinomial Processing Tree models
across the three experiments
Full model Restricted model fp/fw Restricted model sp/sw
Exp. 1 Exp. 2 Exp. 3 Exp. 1 Exp. 2 Exp. 3 Exp. 1 Exp. 2 Exp. 3
fp 0.791 0.743 0.809
0.628 0.559 0.750
0.872 0.812 0.893
fw 0.559 0.457 0.726 0.361 0.304 0.585
sp 0.798 0.828 0.755 0.824 0.851 0.769
0.671 0.765 0.565
sw 0.523 0.699 0.343 0.498 0.679 0.327
bp 0.051 0.050 0.053 0.052 0.051 0.053 0.051 0.050 0.053
bpe 0.161 0.100 0.260 0.157 0.098 0.257 0.186 0.108 0.314
bw 0.139 0.120 0.206 0.136 0.117 0.204 0.139 0.120 0.206
bwe 0.245 0.128 0.368 0.251 0.131 0.372 0.215 0.120 0.314
drastically for words (fw). Thus, the figure contains two X-shaped patterns,
one for pictures, and one for words. The X-shape for pictures is located
above that for words, suggesting that probabilities of recognition for studied
pictures were higher than those for studied words. This visual impression will
now be tested more formally. Hypotheses about the model can be tested by
the construction of submodels, where two parameters are constrained to be
equal to one another. The logic is that if the restricted model shows a
tolerable fit, the affected parameters were not reliably different from each
other. If, on the other hand, the restricted model shows such strain as to be
statistically rejected, we can conclude that the parameters were reliably
different. By this reasoning, we will restrict the model in different ways in
order to test two hypotheses concerning picture superiority.
Picture superiority
The picture superiority phenomenon has two aspects, which we are now in a
position to tease apart. One is form-based recognition, which concerns the
parameters fp and fw; the other is meaning-based recognition, which
concerns the parameters sp and sw. In setting a criterion for accepting or
rejecting the model, I have chosen p
/.01 as the alpha level, because of the
large number of observations (N
/3800). The critical x
(1) is therefore 6.63.
When a restricted model was tested, setting fp
/fw, the model was
rejected in Experiment 1, G
(1)/7.97, p/.005; again rejected in Experiment
2, G
(1)/7.91, p/.005; and accepted in Experiment 3, G
(1)/1.86, p/.17.
Thus, perceptually based recognition was significantly better for pictures
perceptual neutral semantic
Figure 6. The four recognition parameters of the multinomial models, referring to form-based
recognition of pictures (fp) and words (fw), and semantically based recognition of pictures (sp ) and
words (sw ). The conditions have been ordered by increasing depth of processing: perceptual task
(Exp. 3), neutral task (Exp. 1), and semantic task (Exp. 2).
than for words in the two first experiments. In the third experiment, where
perceptual processing was encouraged, form-based recognition of words was
raised almost to the level of pictures, resulting in no significant difference.
Effect sizes were computed as w (Cohen, 1987) for x
-tests, and judged by
the convention that w
/.1 is a small effect, w/.3 is medium-sized, and w/
.5 is large. The size of the picture superiority effect in perceptually based
recognition was small: .05 (Exp. 1), .05 (Exp. 2), and .02 (Exp. 3).
When a restricted model was constructed by setting sp
/sw, we could test
the hypothesis concerning differences between pictures and words in
conceptually based recognition. The restricted model was rejected in all
three experiments: G
(1)/50.09, pB/10
, in Experiment 1; G
, in Experiment 2; and G
(1)/71.55, p B/10
, in Experiment 3.
We can therefore conclude that sp is reliably higher than sw. Effect sizes were
small by the w standard: .12 (Experiment 1), .07 (Experiment 2), and .15
(Experiment 3), yet in all cases larger than the corresponding effects for
perceptually based recognition. The ratio of effect sizes (conceptual/
perceptual) was 2.4, 1.5, and 6.3 in the three experiments, respectively, in
each case a sizeable difference favouring the conceptual basis for the picture
superiority effect over the perceptual basis.
Our focus is on the intuition that decisive differences between pictures and
words lie in the ease and efficiency with which perceptual and, especially,
semantic features are encoded during the study episode. For the present
purposes, it is appropriate to use a model that articulates the mechanism of
encoding and provides parameters by which it can be manipulated. Minerva
2 (Hintzman, 1984) is such a model.
In Minerva 2, stimuli are vectors of features, which are encoded into
memory probabilistically. A parameter, the learning rate (L), specifies the
probability with which a feature from the stimulus (held in a temporary
primary-memory buffer) will be transferred to long-term memory. The
higher the probability is, the more faithful the memory trace will be, and the
higher the future chance of correct recognition.
Recognition is thought of as a matching of a test probe (again, a vector of
features) against all traces in memory simultaneously. For each trace, a
similarity measure with the probe is computed. If the probe has been
studied, it will tend to evoke a strong response from at least one trace in
memory, namely its more or less faithfully encoded replica. The similarity
measures are summed over all traces, after first being raised to the third
power, which has the effect of enhancing the contrast between strong
similarities and weak ones. The resulting sum is called the echo intensity. The
echo can be thought of as an equivalent to the familiarity dimension that
forms the basis of memory decisions in signal detection models of memory.
The (simulated) participant calls the test probe old if the echo intensity
exceeds a certain criterion value, which is also a parameter of the model.
Details of the implementation were as follows. Each stimulus was
simulated as a vector of 40 features, half of which were semantic and half
perceptual. Each feature could take on the values /1, /1, or 0, where the
zero value means that the feature is irrelevant or unknown. When the
stimulus material was assembled, which was done anew for each simulated
condition and subject, values were assigned to the features independently,
and with equal probabilities for the three possible values. In the simulated
study blocks, features were encoded into memory with probabilities
determined by four learning-rate parameters. These were the core of the
model, and the purpose of the modelling exercise was to study whether
variations in these four parameters alone could mimic the experimental
results. Encoding of semantic features in pictures took place with probability
Lsp, and encoding of perceptual features in pictures with probability Lfp.
The corresponding learning rates for words were Lsw and Lfw. (The notation
is analogous to that of the multinomial model.) The purpose of the present
modelling was to see whether the learning rate parameters in this more
elaborate memory model could carry out the same functions as the
recognition probabilities in the multinomial model.
The picture
/picture condition (PP) was simulated by encoding the whole
40-feature vectors; the first 20 features with learning rate Lsp, and the last 20
with learning rate Lfp. In the recognition phase, the whole 40-feature vectors
were matched against the memory traces. The word
/word condition (WW)
used the same procedure, substituting the learning rates Lsw and Lfw.
In the two translated conditions (PE and WE), only the semantic features
were meaningfully encoded; the perceptual features were set to 0. Conse-
quently, only the semantic features were used in recognition.
For simplicity, the criterion in each condition (i.e., the cut-off limit used
by the subject) was fixed so as to simulate bias-free responding, i.e., the
criterion was set at the median value of the joint old
/new distribution of
echo intensities. This was a fairly good approximation to the actual
behaviour of the experimental participants. It is to be noted that no bias
parameters were fitted, nor were high-threshold assumptions made about the
mechanism behind false alarms.
A number of simulations of the experiments were run with 300 simulated
participants, each receiving four conditions with 50 test stimuli in each. The
resulting hit rates and false alarm rates were compared with the actual ones,
and the root mean squared (RMS) error was computed to guide the search
for optimal parameters. The simplex algorithm (in function fminsearch of the
Matlab program, Mathworks Inc.) was used to search the parameter space.
The resulting best-fitting parameters are shown in Figure 7.
To determine the fit of the data statistically, Pearson’s x
was computed.
Comparisons between observed and predicted frequencies were made for
eight independent cells, i.e., hit rates and false alarm rates in the four
conditions PP, WW, PE, and WE. Four parameters were free to vary,
resulting in 4 degrees of freedom (df
/8 / 4). The critical x
(4)/13.28 at
/.01 (N/4000). Frequencies were computed for a group size of 20
participants, for compatibility with the actual group size.
The model was accepted for Experiment 1 (x
/10.25), rejected for
Experiment 2 (x
/27.34), and accepted for Experiment 3 (x
/7.54). Thus,
the fit of the model to the data was relatively good, resulting in acceptance in
two cases out of three.
Our interest centres on the values of those four learning parameters that
yielded the best fits. They are shown in Figure 8. The general pattern
coincides with the recognition probabilities of the multinomial model (cf.
Figure 6). First, it can be noted that the effect of orienting task is in
agreement with expectations, i.e., the semantic learning rates increase with
semantic tasks, and the perceptual learning rates increase with perceptual
tasks. Second, it can be noted that learning rates for pictures are higher than
However, the choice of group size in simulation studies contains an element of arbitrariness.
Hence, the result of Pearsons x
, which is size dependent, needs to be interpreted with caution.
E1 neutr E2 sem E3 perc
4-par model
3-par F-fixed
3-par S-fixed
Figure 7. Fit of Minerva 2 models (root mean squared error as a percentage of mean expected
value). The full four-parameter model shows the best fit. Nested models were also tested, where
either form-based or semantically based recognition parameters were equated (pictures
The f-fixed model (Lfp
/Lfw ) increases misfit only slightly. The s-fixed model (Lsp/Lsw ) fits
significantly worse, demonstrating that Lsp and Lsw are reliably different.
Perc Neutr Sem
Perc Neutr Sem
Perc Neutr Sem
Figure 8. Best-fitting parameters from the Minerva 2 simulations. The four recognition
parameters, referring to form-based recognition of pictures (Lfp ) and words (Lfw ), and
semantically based recognition of pictures (Lsp ) and words (Lsw ). The conditions have been
ordered by increasing depth of processing: the perceptual task (Exp. 3), neutral task (Exp. 1), and
semantic task (Exp. 2). Top panel shows full model, middle panel the f-fixed model, and the lower
panel the s-fixed model.
those for words, and this picture superiority effect seems to apply to both
semantic features and perceptual ones.
The qualitative pattern of effects is in general agreement with those seen
when analysing the multinomial model, as inspection of Figures 6 and 8
shows. The learning rates for semantic features of pictures are higher than
those for words. A similar difference, although not as large, can be seen for
the learning rates of perceptual features for pictures versus words. A more
formal test of this impression was also conducted.
The likelihood of the data, given the set of parameters, was computed,
using probability density functions derived by bootstrapping from a
simulation of 300 participants. In a strategy similar to the treatment of
the MPT models, the full (four-parameter) model was compared to restricted
(three-parameter) models. First, perceptually based memory was set equal
for pictures and words (Lfp
/Lfw), and then conceptually based memory
was treated similarly (Lsp
/Lsw). The fits of the restricted models were
compared with that of the full model, using the equation:G
/ /2 * (LL1 /
LL2), where LL1 and LL2 are the log likelihoods of the restricted and the
full model, respectively. G
is distributed as x
with one degree of freedom.
As Figure 7 suggests, the fit of the f-fixed model (Lfp
/Lfw) was almost as
good as that of the full model, resulting in nonsignificant tests: G
/.39 in Experiment 1; G
/1.17, p /.28 in Experiment 2; and G
/.29 in Experiment 3.
The s-fixed model (Lsp
/Lsw), on the other hand, fared notably worse
than the full model. The tests showed reliable measures of misfit: G
/.002 in Experiment 1, G
/5.11, p/.024 in Experiment 2, and G
/.003 in Experiment 3. Therefore, we can conclude that Lsp and Lsw are
reliably different, or, in other words, that conceptual memory is reliably
better for pictures than for words.
This study examined the memorial superiority of pictures over words, using
a method where pictures and (Swedish) words were studied, and recognition
tests took place in a third format*
/English words*/as well as in the original
formats. The type of processing at encoding was varied over levels of
processing: semantic, neutral, or perceptual. Picture superiority prevailed in
all orienting task conditions, and when tested in translated as well as in
original formats. The main purpose was to examine the part played by
perceptual and conceptual factors in the picture superiority effect. Models
were fitted to the data, and quantitative estimates showed that both
perceptual and conceptual features contributed to the picture superiority
effect, but the main contribution came from conceptual processing. This is in
some contrast to the view that perceptual distinctiveness is the major
advantage accruing to pictures over words (Weldon & Coyote, 1996).
Some features of this study are new. A third format, in which concepts
studied as pictures and words are to be recognised, has not been used before,
to my knowledge. It serves to place both formats on an equal footing by
depriving the test format of perceptual similarities with the studied format.
In this study, participants’ second language*
/English*/served as the third
format for Swedish-speaking students. Because of the similarities between
the two languages, a certain proportion of the stimulus words showed
orthographic similarities between (studied) Swedish and (tested) English
words. However, elimination of these words from the computation of results
did not alter the conclusions; in fact, all statistical inferences were left
unaltered despite the reduction of the database.
Some of the assumptions about the neutral third format may be called
into question. First, drawing a line between cognates and noncognates is
somewhat arbitrary; inevitably, there are some partial resemblances even
within the noncognate pairs. Second, English words may have been
automatically activated by their Swedish counterparts at study, because
bilinguals have been shown to undergo automatic activation of both
languages even in a strictly monolingual task (Bijeljac-Babic, Biardeau, &
Grainger, 1997). Third, fully voluntary activation of the English words may
also have happened, when participants, after exposure to the first English-
language test, caught on to the idea that more of the same may follow. In the
first two cases, the result would have been a potential inflation of
performance in condition WE, and as a consequence, an overestimation of
the semantic encoding of words, i.e., parameters sw and Lsw in the models.
Direct links between Swedish and English words would therefore, if they had
any effect at all on performance, seemingly enhance conceptual memory for
words relative to conceptual memory for pictures. But the main finding of
this study is just the opposite, and these potential sources of error would, if
anything, lead to overly cautious conclusions. The third source of error, i.e.,
voluntary translation, would be likely to affect picture and word encoding to
the same degree, without distorting the relation between the two. Thus, there
is nothing in these potential confounds that would work to enhance the main
finding; more likely, they would detract from it.
The encoding manipulations varied levels of processing: from semantic
over neutral to perceptual. Care was taken to treat pictures and words
equally. In some earlier studies, levels of processing have been confounded
with a generation effect, such as when one orienting task has been naming,
i.e., generating a name to a picture as contrasted with just reading a word out
loud. Another example is image production, which contrasts creating a
mental image to a word with just perceiving a presented picture. The more
active tasks unsurprisingly lead to better retention. In the present study, the
orienting tasks could be applied in a symmetrical fashion to pictures and
words. They produced expected level of processing effects on retention of
both pictures and words, and thus served to validate the models. Model
parameters for conceptual and perceptual processing were affected in
consistent ways by the orienting tasks: semantic encoding increased the
probability of conceptually based recognition and decreased the probability
of perceptually based recognition. Perceptual encoding had the opposite
effect. Thus, the encoding manipulations dissociated perceptual and con-
ceptual processing, and the parameters of the model captured this variation.
Earlier theorising has claimed an advantage in perceptual memory for
pictures over words, but this has been relatively difficult to document
empirically. Perceptual implicit tests favour studied words, if the test is
verbal, and they favour studied pictures, if the test is pictorial. Because
implicit tests tend to be format specific, results have not been comparable
across formats. The only determined effort at comparing picture and word
priming using a common currency is the study by Kinjo and Snodgrass
(2000), which used picture and word fragment identification tests, calibrated
for equal difficulty. The results did not, however, make a wholly consistent
case for better perceptual memory for pictures, because only one experiment
of three showed the expected picture superiority in within-format priming.
The present study used explicit memory and showed estimates of percep-
tually based recognition to be higher for pictures than for words in two
experiments out of three.
The conceptual memory advantage for pictures over words has often been
proposed, but seldom demonstrated. Explicit recognition tests show a
picture advantage, but attributing this to conceptual memory needs
additional supporting data. Support has been marshalled from conceptual
implicit tests, but no consistent picture superiority has emerged. Negative
results have been found (Weldon & Coyote, 1996), along with positive
(Nicolas, 1995) and mixed results (Vaidya & Gabrieli, 2000; Wippich et al.,
1998). Weldon originated, with her collaborators, the idea that conceptual
processing lies at the root of picture superiority in explicit tests, but after
failing to confirm the predicted advantage in conceptual implicit tests,
Weldon and Coyote reneged and instead proposed visual distinctiveness as
the dominant contributor. A tendency in these diverse results seems to be
that shallow encoding conditions result in picture superiority in conceptual
implicit tests, whereas words benefit more from deep encoding, which tends
to eliminate the picture advantage. In the present study, conceptual memory
showed an advantage for pictures over words in all three experiments. In line
with previous results, semantic processing diminished, but did not abolish,
the picture superiority effect. Overall, memory for words stood more to gain
from a deeper level of processing. Memory for pictures was high, in relative
independence of levels of processing. However, the independence was only
relative, because studied pictures showed regular levels of processing effects
when tested in the PE condition.
This study shares a modelling approach with McBride and Dosher
(2002). McBride and Dosher used Jacoby’s Process Dissociation Procedure
to arrive at estimates of conscious and automatic uses of memory in three
implicit tasks: picture fragment identification, word-stem completion, and
category exemplar production. Multinomial Processing Trees were used for
the modelling. By inference, conscious memory was equated with con-
ceptual, and automatic with perceptual memory. Conscious memory was
found to be higher for pictures than for words, whereas automatic memory
was higher for studied pictures in the picture identification task, and higher
for words in the word stem completion task. The results are consistent with
the Transfer Appropriate Processing approach (Weldon & Roediger, 1987;
Weldon et al., 1989).
The present study aimed to model an explicit memory task and to
separate conceptual and perceptual memory directly in the process. There
was therefore no need to take the inferential step of equating conscious with
conceptual memory. The results showed a picture advantage in both
conceptual and perceptual (explicit) memory. Results were consistent across
two types of models with different methods and assumptions: Multinomial
Processing Trees (Batchelder & Riefer, 1999) and Minerva 2 (Hintzman,
1984, 1988).
The two types of models confer different advantages. The MPT models
are computationally tractable and efficient, but some of its parameters and
constructs lack a clear psychological interpretation. In particular, the many
different bias parameters seem unparsimonious. The processing of new items
is described by the high threshold assumption, according to which a new
item can be misjudged as old only as a result of guessing, never as a result of
e.g., preexperimental familiarity. In comparison, the Minerva model is richer
in psychologically plausible content. For example, false alarms are produced
by the same familiarity mechanism that gives rise to hits. Both types of
responses fall out of the few basic assumptions, using only a few free
parameters. This realism comes at a cost, for it is computationally
demanding and lacks closed-form solutions to hypothesis testing.
In conclusion, the conceptual and perceptual processing advantages for
pictures over words have been debated, following inconclusive evidence from
implicit tests. The present results indicate that both conceptual and perceptual
factors confer advantages to pictures over words in memory. They also
suggest that the main contribution comes from conceptual processing.
Original manuscript received October 2004
Revised manuscript received May 2005
PrEview proof published online month/year
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Stimuli in English and Swedish, with cognate/noncognate status
English Swedish Cognate
airplane flygplan noncog
alligator krokodil noncog
anchor ankare cognate
apple a
pple cognate
arrow pil noncog
ashtray askkopp noncog
asparagus sparris noncog
axe yxa noncog
baby carriage barnvagn noncog
ball boll cognate
balloon ballong cognate
banana banan cognate
barn lada noncog
barrel tunna noncog
basket korg noncog
bear bjo
rn noncog
bed sa
ng noncog
bee bi cognate
bell kyrkklocka noncog
belt livrem noncog
bicycle cykel noncog
bird fa˚gel noncog
book bok cognate
boot sto
vel noncog
bottle flaska noncog
bowl ska˚l noncog
box la˚da noncog
bread bro
d cognate
broom kvast noncog
brush borste noncog
butterfly fja
ril noncog
button knapp noncog
cake ta˚rta noncog
candle stearinljus noncog
cannon kanon cognate
car bil noncog
carrot morot noncog
cat katt cognate
chain kedja noncog
chair stol noncog
cherry ko
r noncog
chisel sta
rn noncog
church kyrka noncog
cigar cigarr cognate
cigarette cigarrett cognate
clock klocka cognate
APPENDIX (Continued )
English Swedish Cognate
clothespin kla
dnypa noncog
cloud moln noncog
coat rock noncog
comb kam cognate
couch soffa noncog
cow ko cognate
crown krona cognate
cup kopp cognate
deer ra˚djur noncog
desk skrivbord noncog
dog hund noncog
doll docka noncog
donkey a˚sna noncog
door do
rr cognate
doorknob do
rrhandtag noncog
dress kla
nning noncog
drum trumma noncog
duck anka noncog
eagle o
rn noncog
ear o
ra noncog
envelope kuvert noncog
eye o
ga noncog
fence staket noncog
fish fisk cognate
flag flagga cognate
flower blomma noncog
flute flo
jt cognate
fly fluga noncog
fork gaffel noncog
fox ra
v noncog
frog groda noncog
frying pan stekpanna noncog
garbage can soptunna noncog
glove handske noncog
goat get noncog
grapes vindruvor noncog
grasshopper gra
shoppa noncog
guitar gitarr cognate
gun pistol noncog
hair ha˚r cognate
hammer hammare cognate
hanger kla
ngare noncog
harp harpa cognate
hat hatt cognate
heart hja
rta cognate
horse ha
st noncog
iron strykja
rn noncog
ironing board strykbra
da noncog
APPENDIX (Continued )
English Swedish Cognate
jacket jacka cognate
kangaroo ka
nguru cognate
kettle kittel cognate
key nyckel noncog
knife kniv cognate
ladder stege noncog
leaf lo
v cognate
leg ben noncog
lemon citron noncog
lettuce sallad noncog
light bulb glo
dlampa noncog
light switch stro
mbrytare noncog
lobster hummer noncog
lock la˚s noncog
monkey apa noncog
moon ma˚ne cognate
mountain berg noncog
mouse mus cognate
mushroom svamp noncog
nail spik noncog
nail file nagelfil noncog
necklace halsband noncog
needle na˚l noncog
nose na
sa cognate
onion lo
k noncog
orange apelsin noncog
ostrich struts noncog
owl uggla noncog
paintbrush pensel noncog
pants byxor noncog
peach persika noncog
peacock pa˚fa˚gel noncog
peanut jordno
t noncog
pear pa
ron cognate
pen kulspetspenna noncog
pencil blyertspenna noncog
penguin pingvin cognate
pig gris noncog
pineapple ananas noncog
pipe pipa cognate
pitcher bringare noncog
pliers ta˚ng noncog
plug stickkontakt noncog
pot kastrull noncog
rabbit kanin noncog
record player grammofon noncog
refrigerator kylska˚p noncog
rhinoceros nosho
rning noncog
APPENDIX (Continued )
English Swedish Cognate
rocking chair gungstol noncog
roller skate rullskridsko noncog
rooster tupp noncog
ruler linjal noncog
sailboat segelba˚t noncog
salt shaker saltkar cognate
sandwich smo
rga˚s noncog
saw sa˚g noncog
scissors sax noncog
screw skruv noncog
screwdriver skruvmejsel noncog
seahorse sjo
st noncog
seal sa
l cognate
sheep fa˚r noncog
shirt skjorta noncog
shoe sko cognate
skirt kjol noncog
sled ka
lke noncog
snail snigel noncog
snake orm noncog
snowman sno
gubbe noncog
sock strumpa noncog
spider spindel noncog
spinning wheel spinnrock noncog
spool of thread tra˚drulle noncog
spoon sked noncog
squirrel ekorre noncog
star stja
rna noncog
stool pall noncog
stove spis noncog
strawberry jordgubbe noncog
suitcase resva
ska noncog
sun sol noncog
sweater tro
ja noncog
swing gunga noncog
table bord noncog
tie slips noncog
toaster bro
drost noncog
toothbrush tandborste noncog
traffic light trafikljus noncog
train ta˚g noncog
tree tra
d cognate
truck lastbil noncog
turtle sko
ldpadda noncog
umbrella paraply noncog
vase vas cognate
violin fiol noncog
wagon ka
rra noncog
APPENDIX (Continued )
English Swedish Cognate
watch armbandsur noncog
watering can vattenkanna noncog
watermelon vattenmelon cognate
well brunn noncog
wheel hjul noncog
whistle visselpipa noncog
windmill va
derkvarn noncog
window fo
nster noncog
wineglass vinglas noncog
wrench skiftnyckel noncog
... Identification of misinformation before it becomes viral is the first step toward deterring retransmission of misinformation (Cao et al., 2018). This is especially important for visual misinformation, as visuals tend to be more persuasive and attract greater engagement (Stenberg, 2006). One study found that tweets with images get 89% more likes and are retweeted 1.5 times more often than tweets without images . ...
Full-text available
As a significant source of misinformation, out-of-context visual misinformation refers to visuals presented in an unrelated context. This study explores whether a digital media literacy intervention that features reverse image search tools has significant effects on participants’ message credibility judgment, discernment of visual misinformation, and intention of using reverse image search tools. Data were collected from a pre-registered, web-based, between-subjects experiment (N = 905). Results revealed a significant difference on intention of using reverse search tools among three experimental conditions: active intervention that involved both knowledge and behavior, passive intervention that involved knowledge only, and a control condition. Specifically, active intervention significantly increased intention of using reverse search tools, compared to the passive intervention and the control. Neither active nor passive intervention had an effect on credibility judgment or misinformation discernment. We discuss the implications for future digital media intervention designs and journalism practice that aim to combat visual misinformation.
... A picture is worth a thousand words. It seems we are drawn to images, graphics, and visuals first as they focus our attention (Stenberg, 2006 Use colors consciously. Be aware of the embedded meaning certain colors denote. ...
... The already-existing planes of disinformation, frequent and distinct throughout mainstream media, suggest the malicious prospect of deepfakes toward authentic, online discourse. Prior research reveals the persuasive power of images and video over text, and the comparatively fragile defenses users have against visual deception of high caliber (Newman et al., 2015;Stenberg, 2006). In a marketplace of ideas disrupted with deepfake videos, the truth will face difficulty emerging from the scrum. ...
... Como explicado por Dave Gray (Gray, 2019), fundador da XPLANE, o pensamento visual é uma metodologia que utiliza um conjunto de ferramentas para externalizar os processos internos de pensamento, tornando-os mais claros, explícitos e acionáveis. Constitui uma competência poderosa que explora a nossa capacidade biológica mais profunda de compreensão, tal como demonstrado por Stenberg (2006) no seu trabalho sobre o que designou de picture superiority effect. O pensamento visual aumenta a nossa capacidade de desenvolver novas ideias e designs, comunicar essas ideias de forma eficaz e colaborar com outras pessoas para torná-las reais. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The article presents and characterizes the relationship between the motives of customer loyalty and the attitudes adopted by them and the achieved level of efficiency and growth in corporate value. The purpose of the publication is to present the author's model of the impact of customer loyalty on the company's value. The article is a conceptual study based on: results of an in-depth literature search, experience from cooperation with the small and medium-sized enterprises sector, results of research in the field of customer capital relationship management in the small and medium-sized enterprises sector (grant from the National Science Centre) and experience gained in the course of business activities. The arguments presented in the literature search and the developed model of the impact of customer loyalty on the sustainable value of the company support the thesis of the positive impact of customer loyalty motives on value creation through an increase in the level of efficiency index. The publication presents, in the form of recommendations, the most important actions that can be taken by a company to stimulate consumer behavior, which are the result of proper identification and understanding of customer loyalty motives.
... Interestingly, the majority of literature on the topic focuses on the written content, however, it is a fact that visuals are easy to remember, because their influence on people is much more significant than any written content. Consequently, the visual and audio mechanisms of news spreading are also effective and highly used tools (Stenberg 2007). ...
Full-text available
This research explores political disinformation and hate speech on Facebook with particular stress on the attitude of the Armenian young population after Velvet revolution in Armenia. The empirical results find that cyber disinformation and hate speech in Armenia are mainly provoked and encouraged by two general components; political and social. In the case of political factors, the ongoing domestic political situation and foreign influence interests are highlighted. Whereas, in the case of social factors, the level of media literacy and social media’s rising role in society is emphasized. The study also reveals that despite the unclear extent of social media’s influence on people’s political participation, engagement in different social media platforms has a significantly growing role among young people, particularly in terms of developing political knowledge, getting aware of daily political news, of following politicians’ and political institutions’ activities, of discussing ongoing developments and transformations, highlighting questions and sharing opinions.
... A picture is worth a thousand words. It seems we are drawn to images, graphics, and visuals first as they focus our attention (Stenberg, 2006 Use colors consciously. Be aware of the embedded meaning certain colors denote. ...
Orienting toward the meaning versus perceptual features of an experience benefits subsequent memory. Yet given that past work encouraged these orientations with different tasks, it is not clear if this memory benefit is solely due to internal processing factors versus external task-related ones. Moreover, it remains unclear how this benefit generalises from verbal to detailed picture memory. Here, we developed a novel paradigm that cued participants’ attention to thematic (story) or stylistic (artist style) dimensions of storybook-style illustrations during a repeat-detection task. Afterwards, participants completed a recognition memory test with studied illustrations and lures along thematic and stylistic dimensions. In contrast to past work, both orienting tasks were identical except for the dimension participants were cued to attend to. Furthermore, our thematic and stylistic dimensions enabled us to separately examine memory quality along each dimension. We found that thematic attention yielded superior memory for studied illustrations over stylistic orientations. False alarms to lures varied by dimension and attention: errors were greater to thematic than stylistic lures overall and stylistic attention elevated false alarms to stylistic lures. Our results show that semantic encoding orientations enhance detailed picture memory, without a cost to memory quality along semantic or perceptual dimensions of experience.
Searching for Trust explores the intersection of trust, disinformation, and blockchain technology in an age of heightened institutional and epistemic mistrust. It adopts a unique archival theoretic lens to delve into how computational information processing has gradually supplanted traditional record keeping, putting at risk a centuries-old tradition of the 'moral defense of the record' and replacing it with a dominant ethos of information-processing efficiency. The author argues that focusing on information-processing efficiency over the defense of records against manipulation and corruption (the ancient task of the recordkeeper) has contributed to a diminution of the trustworthiness of information and a rise of disinformation, with attendant destabilization of the epistemic trust fabric of societies. Readers are asked to consider the potential and limitations of blockchains as the technological embodiment of the moral defense of the record and as means to restoring societal trust in an age of disinformation.
With the flourishing of mobile Internet, the multimodal reviews (i.e., reviews with both texts and images) are becoming prevalent and playing an important role in customer decision makings. However, when making multimodal review helpfulness prediction (MRHP), it becomes difficult due to the information interaction between text and images. The information in review text (images) can be either complementary or substitutive to visual (textual) review information. Moreover, the text (images) itself may constitute the review’s diagnostic value predominantly in some cases, whereas they could be jointly perceived as useful by customers in others. In this study, we delve to conduct MRPH by modeling their text-image interactions. We proposed a novel multimodal deep learning method that exploits the complementation and substitution effects between text and images and further coordinates them for MRHP. Empirical evaluation on a large-scale online review dataset shows that our proposed method outperformed the benchmarks, indicating its powerful capability to predict the helpfulness of multimodal reviews. Exploratory analysis renders insights for understanding the complementary-substitutive interaction patterns between review text and images.
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Seeking to explore the nature of European far-right online ecosystems, this research report examines the outlinking activity of identified pro-far-right users among the followers of the official Twitter accounts of two prominent far-right European political parties, Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and France’s Rassemblement National (RN). Employing a three-layered analysis, the report explores not just the top-level domains outlinked to by its sample of AfD and RN Twitter followers but combines this with analysis of the technical specifications of the content types outlinked to and treatment of the socio-political nature of the content arrived at by clicking on the most tweeted URLs. This results in the provision of a more thorough and cohesive view of this online ecosystem than contained in other similar studies.
Full-text available
We present a review of global matching models of recognition memory, describing their theoretical origins and fundamental assumptions, focusing on two defining properties: (1) recognition is based solely on familiarity due to a match of test items to memory at a global level, and (2) multiple cues are combined interactively. We evaluate the models against relevant data bearing on issues including the representation of associative information, differences in verbal and environmental context effects, list-length, list-strength, and global similarity effects, and ROC functions. Two main modifications to the models are discussed: one based on the representation of associative information, and the other based on the addition of recall-like retrieval mechanisms.
Full-text available
The experiment was designed to test differential predictions derived from dual-coding and depth-of-processing hypotheses. Subjects under incidental memory instructions free recalled a list of 36 test events, each presented twice. Within the list, an equal number of events were assigned to structural, phonemic, and semantic processing conditions. Separate groups of subjects were tested with a list of pictures, concrete words, or abstract words. Results indicated that retention of concrete words increased as a direct function of the processing-task variable (structural < phonemic <semantic). However, for both abstract words and pictures, phonemic and semantic processing produced equivalent memory performance. These data provided strong support for the dual-coding model.
Full-text available
The multiple-trace simulation model, {minerva} 2, was applied to a number of phenomena found in experiments on relative and absolute judgments of frequency, and forced-choice and yes–no recognition memory. How the basic model deals with effects of repetition, forgetting, list length, orientation task, selective retrieval, and similarity and how a slightly modified version accounts for effects of contextual variability on frequency judgments were shown. Two new experiments on similarity and recognition memory were presented, together with appropriate simulations; attempts to modify the model to deal with additional phenomena were also described. Questions related to the representation of frequency are addressed, and the model is evaluated and compared with related models of frequency judgments and recognition memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Presents a standardized set of 260 pictures for use in experiments investigating differences and similarities in the processing of pictures and words. The pictures are black-and-white line drawings executed according to a set of rules that provide consistency of pictorial representation. They have been standardized on 4 variables of central relevance to memory and cognitive processing: name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, and visual complexity. The intercorrelations among the 4 measures were low, suggesting that they are indices of different attributes of the pictures. The concepts were selected to provide exemplars from several widely studied semantic categories. Sources of naming variance, and mean familiarity and complexity of the exemplars, differed significantly across the set of categories investigated. The potential significance of each of the normative variables to a number of semantic and episodic memory tasks is discussed. (34 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Pictures are remembered better than their names. This picture superiority effect in episodic memory has been attributed either to the greater sensory distinctiveness of pictures or to their greater conceptual distinctiveness. Weldon and Coyote (1996) tested the conceptual distinctiveness hypothesis by comparing how well pictures as opposed to words primed in two conceptual implicit memory tasks (category production and word association). They found no picture superiority in priming and concluded that the basis of the picture superiority effect must then be pictures' greater sensory distinctiveness. Using the same logic, we compared how well pictures as opposed to words primed in a perceptual implicit memory task (picture and word fragment identification). The sensory distinctiveness theory would predict that pictures should prime picture fragment identification better than words prime word fragment identification, a result we call the picture superiority in within-form priming. Across three experiments which manipulated the encoding task at study, only one showed picture superiority in within-form priming. In contrast, in all three experiments there was robust picture superiority in recall, and exposure to pictures and words at study and test produced independent effects in which both study and test exposure to pictures was more effective for recall than exposure to words. We consider how these results might be reconciled by differences in retrieval demands between recall and fragment identification.
So far we have seen that the fundamental characteristic of consciousness is that it must, by nature, be consciousness of something. We have thus formed a dyad: on the one hand there is consciousness, on the other there is that something - object, thing, phenomenon - of which consciousness is conscious. But we have also seen that consciousness, when considered in isolation, is nothing but an abstraction, as is the phenomenon - the object, the thing - since it cannot exist as such without appearing to a consciousness. Concrete existence manifests itself as a synthetic whole in which consciousness and phenomenon, in taking shape, acquire that concreteness they were lacking when considered in isolation. The relationship between the two is thus constitutive of the elements themselves as they relate to one another. However this does not mean that the origin of this relationship can be indistinctly sought in either consciousness or in the phenomenon. It is only in consciousness that it can be found; it is only in consciousness that that particular relationship known as knowledge is defined. Consciousness is responsible for this relationship in that it originally comes into being through its relationship with an object. It is now time to further clarify the relationship between consciousness and object and, more generally, to pose the problem of the origin of knowledge.
Notes that phonetic similarities among paired-associate (PA) stimuli interfere with rate of acquisition independently of the imagery value of the stimulus words. An attempt was made in an experiment with 96 undergraduates to determine if phonetic attributes play a role in coding when the information processing sequence is initiated from a pictorial rather than a verbal representation. The word condition contained stimuli which were either high or low in similarity, and the picture condition consisted of pictorial representations of these words. Half of the Ss in the picture condition were given standard PA instructions and the remaining half were, in addition, required to overtly name each picture before anticipating its response. Similarity impaired acquisistion to the greatest extent within the word condition, to a lesser extent in the picture-name condition, and not at all in the picture condition. In conjunction with verbal report data, these findings suggest that pictorial representations can function as effective memory codes independently of their corresponding verbal representations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)