Masters Thesis

Effects of Domain-specific Experience and Perceptual Grouping Cues on Holisitic Processing

There are many open questions about holistic processing and its role in visual expertise. Although a person is an expert within a visual domain, there is still much debate about the differences between novices and experts in holistic processing. This study aims to investigate the relationship between visual expertise (e.g., bird experts) and perceptual grouping cues (e.g., alignment of the background). This will be explored to help understand how grouping cues affect holistic processing of non-face objects, like birds. Previous work has suggested that holistic processing is best characterized as the automatic tendency to process all object parts as a whole (e.g., Richler, Palmeri, & Gauthier, 2012). the purpose of this study is to explore whether grouping cues differentially affect objects within a person’s category of expertise (e.g., West Coast birds) compared to individuals who have limited to no experience within the same category of expertise. Participants will complete a Visual Discrimination Task (VDT) and the full version of the composite paradigm; the background rather than the object itself will be manipulated in the composite paradigm, which should disrupt grouping cues (and thus holistic processing) (Curby et al., 2013). It is hypothesized that the manipulation of the background will reduce holistic processing of birds within the category of expertise for experts only.

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