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Hee-Kyung Bae, Kyung-Mi Kim, Jeehyang Rhim, Do-Joon Yi; Experience-dependent psychological distance in a distance Stroop task. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):953. doi: 10.1167/9.8.953.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Psychological distance refers to the perceived gap between a stimulus and a person's direct experience and its activation influences the decisions and actions that the person makes towards the stimulus. In a picture-word version of the Stroop task, when a word conveying close psychological distance (e.g., “friend”) appeared geographically closer, its identity was judged faster relative to a word conveying far distance (e.g., “enemy”). It was suggested that the interference between social distance and spatial distance contributes to this effect (Bar-Anon et al., 2007). In the current study, we tested whether the level of familiarity might affect the construction of psychological distance. We hypothesized that a familiar stimulus, relative to an unfamiliar stimulus, is perceived to be psychologically closer to the observer and so its perception might be modulated by the perceived spatial distance. To test this hypothesis, we first trained participants for nonsense words in a lexical decision task. Three nonsense words were presented in nonword trials with pre-assigned exposure frequency (56, 16, and 8 times in total 160 trials). Participants then performed a distance Stroop task with the most familiar and the least familiar nonwords. Two nonsense words were presented equally often and each of them appeared in either proximal or distant spatial locations in 16 different scenes with clear depth cues. Participants were asked to make a speeded judgment on the identity of each word regardless of spatial location. The results showed a significant interaction between the word familiarity and the spatial distance: the familiar word was judged faster in proximal locations but slower in distant locations relative to the unfamiliar word. The current findings suggest that familiarity could be one of the critical factors that underlie the construction of psychological distance.
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