Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 361–367 | Cite as

Configurational effects in visual information processing

  • William P. Banks
  • William Prinzmetal


These experiments show that the perceptual organization of a multielement display affects both the speed and accuracy with which a target letter in it is detected. The first two experiments show that a target is detected more poorly if it is arranged in good form (a perceptual Gestalt) with noise elements than if it is not. This effect is not confounded with target-noise proximity or display size, and it holds for stimuli terminated by the subject’s response as well as for stimuli of very brief duration. Increasing the number of noise elements can actually improve performance if the added noise elements increase the degree to which the noise elements form perceptual groups separately from the target. A third experiment tries out a new method for scaling the perceptual structure of an array, and it shows that the main features of the first two experiments can be predicted from the scaled perceptual structure of the arrays they used.


Visual Search Stimulus Duration Perceptual Organization Perceptual Grouping Noise Element 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Banks, W. P., Bodinger, D., &Illige, M. Visual detection accuracy and target-noise proximity.Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1974,2, 411–414.Google Scholar
  2. Eriksen, C. W., & Spencer, T. Rate of information processing in visual perception: Some results and methodological considerations.Journal of Experimental Psychology Monographs, 1969,79(No. 2, Part 2).Google Scholar
  3. Estes, W. K., &Taylor, H. A. Visual detection in relation to display size and redundancy of cotical elements.Perception & Psychophysics. 1966,1, 9–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gardner, G. T. Evidence for independent parallel channels in tachistoscopic perception.Cognitive Psychology, 1973,4, 130–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Garner, W. R. Good patterns have few alternatives.American Scientist, 1970,58, 34–42.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Johnson, S. C. Hierarchical clustering schemes.Psychometrika, 1967,32, 241–254.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Kahneman, D.Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 1973.Google Scholar
  8. Kinchla, R. A. Detecting target elements in multi-element arrays: A confusability model.Perception & Psychophysics, 1974,15, 149–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McIntyre, C., Fox, R., &Neale, J. Effects of noise similarity and redundancy on the information processed from brief visual displays.Perception & Psychophysics, 1970,7, 328–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Neisser, U.Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.Google Scholar
  11. Nickerson, R. S. Binary classification reaction time: A review of some studies of human information-processing capabilities.Psychonomic Monograph Supplement, 1972,4(17), 275–318.Google Scholar
  12. Pomerantz, J. R., &Garner, W. R. Stimulus configuration in selective attention tasks.Perception & Psychophysics, 1973,14, 565–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shiffrin, R. M., &Gardner, G. T. Visual processing capacity and attentional control.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972,93, 72–82.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • William P. Banks
    • 1
  • William Prinzmetal
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentPomona CollegeClaremont
  2. 2.Claremont Graduate SchoolClaremont

Personalised recommendations