Relative judgment seems to be the key: Revisiting the Beck effect

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In multiple-stimulus presentation, orientation disparity has been known to be more discriminable than disparity in line arrangement (e.g., J. Beck, 1972). The source of the effect and its locus were studied in 7 experiments. In different experiments a discrimination between an upright T and either a tilted T or an L, or a discrimination between a tilted T and an L, was required, either in a single stimulus presentation or in the context of upright Ts. Number of stimuli, location uncertainty, and adjacency between stimuli were manipulated. The results indicated that the effect is insensitive to these factors, which is incommensurate with predictions from several accounts of the effect. All the effect requires is that disparate stimuli are simultaneously presented, suggesting that relative judgment is a necessary condition for its manifestation. The effect surfaces when the task calls for procedures based on perception of homogeneity or salience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-805
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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