The Beck effect is back, now in color: A demonstration

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It has been repeatedly found (e.g., Beck, 1982; Beck & Ambler, 1973) that a tilted T is detected better than an L when presented on the background of a number of upright Ts, although in isolation both are discriminated from an upright T about equally well. We demonstrate that an analogous interaction between context presence and stimulus type can be obtained with color stimuli: A light green was discriminated from a dark green better than an olive brown was, yet that occurred only in the context of a background of three dark green disks. This indicates that the effects, both original and novel, probably are not due to anything peculiar to form perception, such as line arrangement or supraelement configurations. It is suggested that the presence of collateral background stimuli probably enables the perceptual system to capitalize on relative judgment involving contrasts or deviations from a presented anchor value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-103
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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