Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Standardized Set of 200 Full Color, Real World Pictures for Use in Psychology Research

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Standardized Set of 200 Full Color, Real World Pictures for Use in Psychology Research

Article excerpt

The investigation into how humans identify and process relevant information about objects in their surrounding environment relies on quality stimuli that ideally mimic those of the natural world. Standardized picture sets depicting various concepts (i.e. types of objects) are regularly used to study numerous aspects of object processing. A well characterized and frequently used set of line drawings illustrating commonly encountered objects was created and normalized over 30 years ago by Snodgrass and Vanderwart (1980).

The development of a scientifically useful picture set is quite labor intensive. The 260 Snodgrass and Vanderwart (S&V) concepts were required to meet three criteria before they were accepted into the picture pool. Each image had to be: easily identifiable, a category exemplar, and had to be a concept at the basic level of categorization. These criteria ensured that the selected concepts were generally agreed upon objects, and thus scientifically useful.

Once the concepts were determined, representational line drawings were created. Each line drawing was subsequently standardized on multiple variables: name agreement, image agreement, familiarity, and visual complexity (Snodgrass & Vanderwart, 1980). In the name agreement condition each stimulus was individually presented to participants who were instructed to identify each image by writing down its name. The image agreement condition required participants to form a mental representation of each concept prior to viewing it. Participants were then instructed to rate how closely the stimulus matched their previously formed mental image. The familiarity and visual complexity conditions required participants to rate how usual/unusual the stimulus was based upon their own experiences and the amount of detail or intricacy each object possessed respectively.

In the intervening years since the creation of this valuable picture set, scores of scientists have used these line drawings in a wide assortment of research projects. A literature search in Web of Science (March, 2014) revealed that the S&V picture set has been cited in excess of 3,000 times. Cognitive researchers have made use of the S&V stimulus set to differentiate the activity associated with spatial and object-based working memory (Singhal, 2006) as well as the role of priming in object recognition (Kennedy, Rodrigue, & Raz, 2007). Furthermore, this picture set has been used to examine disorders, such as speech deficits found in aphasia (Rose & Douglas, 2008) and factors associated with developmental dyslexia (Zoccolotti, De Luca, Judica, & Spinelli, 2008). Neuroscientists have also employed this picture set to investigate neurobiological concepts such as episodic encoding in relation to object recognition (Hofer, et al., 2007) and the neural activity associated with repetition effects (Guo, Lawson, & Jiang, 2007).

The S&V picture set has proven to be a useful stimulus set in non-English speaking cultures as well, being similarly normed in France (Alario & Ferrand, 1999), Italy (Nisi, Longoni, & Snodgrass, 2000), Iceland (Pind, Jonsdottir, Gissurardottir, & Jonsson, 2000), Britain (Barry, Morrisson, & Ellis, 1997) and Spain (Sanfeliu, & Fernandez, 1996). By norming the stimuli in different languages and cultures the stimulus set has developed a much wider range of application. Not only has it been normed in a variety of languages, since its inception the S&V picture set has been augmented and updated. Rossion and Pourtois (2004) were interested in the role of surface detail in object processing and were in need of a stimulus set to tease apart these differences. As a result two additional picture sets were fashioned out of the existing S&V picture set, one by adding color to each line drawing, the other by adding color and texture to each picture. In compliance with Snodgrass and Vanderwart, each picture was again subjected to strict standardizing measures. …

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