Perceptual grouping and attention: Not all groupings are equal

Ruth Kimchi, Irene Razpurker-Apfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined grouping under inattention using Driver, Davis, Russell, Turatto, & Freeman's (2001) method. On each trial, two successive displays were briefly presented, each comprising a central target square surrounded by elements. The task was to judge whether the two targets were the same or different. The organization of the background elements stayed the same or changed, independently of the targets. In different conditions, background elements grouped into columns/rows by color similarity, a shape (a triangle/arrow, a square/cross, or a vertical/horizontal line) by color similarity, and a shape with no other elements in the background. We measured the influence of the background on the target same-different judgments. The results imply that background elements grouped into columns/rows by color similarity and into a shape when no segregation from other elements was involved and the shape was relatively "good." In contrast, no background grouping was observed when resolving figure-ground relations for segregated units was required, as in grouping into a shape by color similarity. These results suggest that grouping is a multiplicity of processes that vary in their attentional demands. Regardless of attentional demands, the products of grouping are not available to awareness without attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-696
Number of pages10
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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