Psychological Research

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 44–58 | Cite as

The role of position in object selection in vision

  • A. H. C. van der Heijden


Within contemporary visual-information-processing psychology, two classes of selective-attention theories can be distinguished: position-not-special theories and position-special theories. The position-not-special theories postulate that attentional selection by colour, by form, and by position are equivalent selective operations. The position-special theories assume that selection by position is more basic or direct than selection by colour or by form. Examples of both types of theory are briefly described, and irrelevant and relevant evidence is critically discussed. It is concluded that the relevant evidence is directly compatible with the position-special views and that the position-not-special theories require additional extraneous assumptions. The position-special model presented in Van der Heijden (1992) is elaborated in further detail. It is shown that this model is compatible with two important and often substantiated assumptions of the position-not-special theories: the assumption that pre-attentive analysers organize the visual scene in objects against a background, and the assumption that visual-selective attention can be directed at objects isolated in this way. This position-special theory is a parsimonious theory because it can identify the mentalistic conceptselective attention with the materialistic conceptspatial position.


Visual Scene Relevant Evidence Attentional Selection Object Selection Selective Operation 
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© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. H. C. van der Heijden
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Experimental and Theoretical PsychologyUniversity of LeidenAK LeidenThe Netherlands

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