August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
The Role of Perceptual Features vs. Learned Associations in Utilizing Directional Indicators
Author Affiliations
  • Amanda Hahn
    Department of Psychology, Rice University
  • Anna Cragin
    Department of Psychology, Rice University
  • James Pomerantz
    Department of Psychology, Rice University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 195. doi:
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      Amanda Hahn, Anna Cragin, James Pomerantz; The Role of Perceptual Features vs. Learned Associations in Utilizing Directional Indicators. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):195.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Previous research by Attneave, Palmer and others has examined what kinds of contexts bias stimuli such as triangles to point in one direction or another. However, little research has been done on what perceptual properties make a stimulus indicate direction at all. Shapes such as arrows and triangles are generally used to indicate direction, but it is unclear why they are more commonly used than other similar stimuli such as checkmarks, Ts, or Ys. It is therefore possible that arrows and triangles possess certain perceptual features that make them good at indicating direction. Alternatively, it is possible that stimuli point simply by virtue of a learned association between a shape and a direction. The current line of research seeks to define any features that are necessary and sufficient for any stimulus to indicate direction. To this end, we have modified arrows in an attempt to vary such perceptual features as angle of the chevron on the arrow, ratio of the size of the chevron relative to the length of the line, and thickness of the line, among others. We present a series of experiments that combine subjective ratings (subjects were asked to indicate which direction they perceive a stimulus to point in) and performance measures (navigation, priming, and speeded classification tasks). Interestingly, we found a disconnect between subjects’ ratings of pointing direction and their performance on tasks that use those stimuli for navigation (i.e., subjects say a stimulus points East, but they are as fast or sometimes faster utilizing it for moving West). However, pointers do seem to be perceived as indicators of direction (as opposed to symbolic stand-ins for direction), as shown by priming effects, as well as by an interaction between Simon interference and congruency with perceived pointing direction.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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