chapter  5
31 Pages

Words as Visual Patterns

The effect of familiarity on recognition thresholds may result either from the facilitation of visual synthesis itself or from changes in subsequent verbal inference, depending on what level of visual construction the subject has been set to undertake. The topics of perceptual defense and subception, in particular, have been studied at such great length that even those who continue to publish about them seem tired of the issues. This chapter attempts to assess the present status of some of these overworked problems. A much more plausible account of the word-frequency effect, first proposed by Solomon and Postman and recently elaborated by Savin, Kempler and Wiener, Newbigging, is what may be called "fragment theory". Fragment theory leads to a number of specific predictions which have been experimentally confirmed. Moreover, fragment theory is equally ambiguous about the locus of the integrative process. Effects like those due to word-frequency can also be obtained by direct manipulation of experimental variables.