When Complex Is Easy on the Mind: Internal Repetition of Visual Information in Complex Objects Is a Source of Perceptual Fluency

Yannick Joye*, Linda Steg, Ayca Berfu Ünal, Roos Pals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Across 3 studies, we investigated whether visual complexity deriving from internally repeating visual information over many scale levels is a source of perceptual fluency. Such continuous repetition of visual information is formalized in fractal geometry and is a key-property of natural structures. In the first 2 studies, we exposed participants to 3-dimensional high-fractal versus low-fractal stimuli, respectively characterized by a relatively high versus low degree of internal repetition of visual information. Participants evaluated high-fractal stimuli as more complex and fascinating than their low-fractal counterparts. We assessed ease of processing by asking participants to solve effortful puzzles during and after exposure to high-fractal versus low-fractal stimuli. Across both studies, we found that puzzles presented during and after seeing high-fractal stimuli were perceived as the easiest ones to solve and were solved more accurately and faster than puzzles associated with the low-fractal stimuli. In Study 3, we ran the Dot Probe Procedure to rule out that the findings from Study 1 and Study 2 reflected differences in attentional bias between the high-fractal and low-fractal stimuli, rather than perceptual fluency. Overall, our findings confirm that complexity deriving from internal repetition of visual information can be easy on the mind.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology : Human Perception and Performance
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2016

Keywords

  • perceptual fluency
  • fractal geometry
  • visual complexity
  • cognitive performance
  • natural structures
  • PROCESSING FLUENCY
  • FRACTAL DIMENSION
  • JUDGMENTS
  • BEAUTY
  • ENVIRONMENTS
  • ATTRIBUTION
  • EXPERIENCE
  • PREFERENCE
  • ATTENTION
  • SYMMETRY

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