Perceptual grouping in haptic search: the influence of proximity, similarity, and good continuation

Krista E Overvliet, Ralf Th Krampe, Johan Wagemans
Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance 2012, 38 (4): 817-21
We conducted a haptic search experiment to investigate the influence of the Gestalt principles of proximity, similarity, and good continuation. We expected faster search when the distractors could be grouped. We chose edges at different orientations as stimuli because they are processed similarly in the haptic and visual modality. We therefore expected the principles of similarity and good continuation to be operational in haptics as they are in vision. In contrast, because of differences in spatial processing between vision and haptics, we expected differences for the principle of proximity. In haptics, the Gestalt principle of proximity could operate at two distinct levels-somatotopic proximity or spatial proximity-and we assessed both possibilities in our experiments. The results show that the principles of similarity and good continuation indeed operate in this haptic search task. Neither of our proximity manipulations yielded effects, which may suggest that grouping by proximity must take place before an invariant representation of the object has formed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

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