Superstitious perceptions reveal properties of internal representations

Gosselin, F. and Schyns, P.G. (2003) Superstitious perceptions reveal properties of internal representations. Psychological Science, 14(5), pp. 505-509. (doi:10.1111/1467-9280.03452)

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Abstract

Everyone has seen a human face in a cloud, a pebble, or blots on a wall. Evidence of superstitious perceptions has been documented since classical antiquity, but has received little scientific attention. In the study reported here, we used superstitious perceptions in a new principled method to reveal the properties of unobservable object representations in memory. We stimulated the visual system with unstructured white noise. Observers firmly believed that they perceived the letter S in Experiment 1 and a smile on a face in Experiment 2. Using reverse correlation and computational analyses, we rendered the memory representations underlying these superstitious perceptions.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Schyns, Professor Philippe
Authors: Gosselin, F., and Schyns, P.G.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Psychological Science
ISSN:0956-7976
ISSN (Online):1467-9280
Published Online:20 August 2003

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
340691Superstitious perceptions reveal properties of internal representationsPhilippe SchynsEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)RES-000-23-0139Cognitive Neuroimaging & Neuroengineering Technologies