Rhodes G, McLean I G, 1990, "Distinctiveness and expertise effects with homogeneous stimuli: Towards a model of configural coding" Perception 19(6) 773 – 794
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Distinctiveness and expertise effects with homogeneous stimuli: Towards a model of configural coding
Gillian Rhodes, Ian G McLean
Received 26 September 1989; in revised form 9 March 1990
Abstract. Recent studies using Brennan's computerized caricature generator have demonstrated distinctiveness effects consistent with the idea that faces are coded in terms of their individual distinctive properties. Based on these findings it is suggested that, for homogeneous classes whose members share a common configuration, distinctive configural information may be coded as metric deviations from a spatial norm. Experiments are described which demonstrate similar distinctiveness effects in bird identification. Transformations that increase distinctiveness (caricatures) produced faster identification and a higher recognition proportion, for both experts and nonexperts, than transformations that reduce distinctiveness (anticaricatures). This distinctiveness advantage is consistent with the norm-based coding idea. Furthermore, within certain limits, increasing distinctiveness did not impair performance relative to that for veridical drawings. For experts there was also a caricature advantage, such that 50% caricatures of birds in a highly homogeneous and familiar class (passerines) were identified more quickly, provided that they were recognized at all, than uncaricatured veridical drawings. The significance of a caricature advantage for the visual coding of configural information is discussed.
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