Perceptual vs conceptual similarity: Conditions that change how we rate differences between images.


The more distinct objects are in visual long-term memory, the better our memory performs. However, objects can be distinct in more ways than one: objects can be perceptually distinct and/or conceptually distinct. In order to vary the type of distinctiveness, the current study depicted pairs of objects that differed in one of four ways: in state, in position, in orientation or in size. However, no study has collected participants ratings of conceptual and perceptual distinctiveness for these four changes. Thus, the current study had participants rate these changes on perceptual and conceptual distinctiveness.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

It was hypothesised that pairs of images that differ in state will be rated as more conceptually different and perceptually different than pairs of images that differ in location, size or orientation.


11 REP participants completed the study. However, this study was re-run online (due to COVID-19 restraints), so all in-person REP data was excluded.


Pairs of images were presented on a computer screen, and sequentially to participants. These images randomly differed in either state, orientation, size or position. Following this, participants were asked to rate the pairs of images based on how perceptually distinct they are and how conceptually distinct they appear to be from each other.


One-way ANOVAs revealed a significant effect of type of change on rated perceptual distinctiveness (F(2.53,154.20) = 99.0 , p <.001, ηp2 = .62) and rated conceptual distinctiveness (F(1.70,103.51) = 124.2, p < .001, ηp2 = .67).


These results suggest that object changes in state, size, orientation, or position are sufficient to vary the rated conceptual and the perceptual distinctiveness of pairs of objects. The planned communication of these results will be in an honours thesis.