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Conceptual and perceptual factors in the picture superiority effect

Publishing year: 2006
Language: English
Pages: 813-847
Publication/Series: European Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Volume: 18
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Psychology Press


The picture superiority effect, i.e. better memory for pictures than for corresponding words, has been variously ascribed to a conceptual or a perceptual processing advantage. The present study aimed to disentangle perceptual and conceptual contributions. Pictures and words were tested for recognition in both their original formats and translated into participants´ second language. Multinomial Processing Tree (Batchelder & Riefer, 1999) and MINERVA (Hintzman, 1984) models were fitted to the data, and parameters corresponding to perceptual and conceptual recognition were estimated. Over three experiments, orienting tasks were varied, with neutral (Exp 1), semantic (Exp. 2), and perceptual (Exp. 3) instructions, and the encoding manipulations were used to validate the parameters. Results indicate that there is picture superiority in both conceptual and perceptual memory, but conceptual processing makes a stronger contribution to the advantage of pictures over words in recognition.


  • Neurology


  • ISSN: 1464-0635