Salience and Categorization

Salience and Categorization

Categorization is the process by which we sort different objects in the environment into groups. In the CogsLab, participants sort images while we record their eye movements. The eye movement data are then used to tell us where, when and for how long participants look at the different parts of an object. Traditionally, all of the features are equally salient, such that no one feature stands out from the rest.

The real world doesn’t always looks that way, though. Consider driving along a highway near a construction zone. The bright vests and hard hats of the construction workers are meant to attract attention so that a driver knows to avoid that part of the road, but once that information is registered it is best for a driver not to pay too much attention to the construction since their primary task is to operate their vehicle.

In this project, we’re examining the influence of particularly salient features in categorization. Early findings suggest that salient distractors actually help¬†participants in making efficient eye movements.


An example stimulus with salient distractors

The bright features are distractors, and the less salient features are the ones that are important to making a category choice