Object identification: The mental representation of physical and conceptual attributes

Stephanie Kelter*, Holger Grötzbach, Ralf Freiheit, Barbara Höhle, Sabine Wutzig, Eugen Diesch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In two experiments, subjects indicated whether two pictures of familiar objects were equivalent. The picture pairs were identical, showed the same object in various perspectives and states, or showed different objects with varying degrees of conceptual relatedness. In Experiment 1, the equivalence criterion for judging the picture pairs was varied between subjects (identity of pictures; conceptual equivalence of objects at subordinate, basic, or superordinate level). The reaction times of the four subject groups suggest that a pictorial stimulus is not always mentally represented in the same way, and that the instructions given determine which attributes of the stimulus are represented. In Experiment 2, the visual similarity of the picture pairs was varied. The results indicate, at least with a basic-level equivalence instruction, that not only perceptual, but also non-perceptual, functional attributes are represented-namely, those that, according to Rosch et al. (1976), are common to the members of a superordinate category.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1984
Externally publishedYes


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