Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Picture-word differences in mental comparisons involving object colour were investigated. On each trial of Experiment 1, a colour was tachistoscopically presented beside either an uncoloured line drawing of an object or the object's name. Subjects indicated whether or not the colour differed from the object's real-life colour. The categorical structure of colour concepts was operationalized by using normative data so that the presented colours best exemplified basic and boundary (e.g., greenish blue) colour terms and were either from the same colour name category as the real-life colour of the object or from a different category. Also, perceptual distance between the colour and the object's real-life colour was varied systematically. Pictures did not elicit faster comparisons than words in any condition, although a symbolic distance effect was found for within-category comparisons. Experiments 2 and 3 suggested that the absence of a picture advantage could not be easily explained in terms of unusually long recognition times for the pictures or greater uncertainty for colours associated with the pictures than with the words. In Experiment 4, the pictures and words were coloured in the colours with which they were paired in Experiment 1, thus colour and form were integrated. Although a stimulus modality by category interaction was found for these integrated stimuli, so that within category comparisons were faster for pictures than words and between category comparisons were faster for words than pictures, this interaction was not replicated in Experiment 5. The results are consistent with those obtained by Paivio and te Linde (1980) using a different procedure, and suggest that, although the colour memory used in making within category comparisons consists of information concerning perceptual similarity among colours, it is not accessed more quickly from pictures than words, unlike in mental comparisons involving other dimensions.



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