Distance-Dependent Processing of Pictures and Words

Elinor Amit, Daniel Algom, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A series of 8 experiments investigated the association between pictorial and verbal representations and the psychological distance of the referent objects from the observer. The results showed that people better process pictures that represent proximal objects and words that represent distal objects than pictures that represent distal objects and words that represent proximal objects. These results were obtained with various psychological distance dimensions (spatial, temporal, and social), different tasks (classification and categorization), and different measures (speed of processing and selective attention). The authors argue that differences in the processing of pictures and words emanate from the physical similarity of pictures, but not words, to the referents. Consequently, perceptual analysis is commonly applied to pictures but not to words. Pictures thus impart a sense of closeness to the referent objects and are preferably used to represent such objects, whereas words do not convey proximity and are preferably used to represent distal objects in space, time, and social perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-415
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Volume138
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Keywords

  • distance
  • pictures
  • words

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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