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J Vis. 2019 Mar 1;19(3):3. doi: 10.1167/19.3.3.

How can observers use perceived size? Centroid versus mean-size judgments.

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Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.


statistical representations are aggregate properties of the environment that are presumed to be perceived automatically and preattentively. We investigated two tasks presumed to involve these representations: judgments of the centroid of a set of spatially arrayed items and judgments of the mean size of the items in the array. The question we ask is: When similar information is required for both tasks, do observers use it with equal postfilter efficiency (Sun, Chubb, Wright, & Sperling, 2016)? We find that, according to instructions, observers can either efficiently utilize item size in making centroid judgments or ignore it almost completely. Compared to centroid judgments, however, observers estimating mean size incorporate the size of individual items into the average with low efficiency.

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