Testing Reaction Times of Local and Global Perception

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Global and Local Processing in Visual Perception

Abstract
This study examined visual perception and the rates at which global and local features are reacted to with an aim of replicating and validating a previous experiment conducted by Navon (1977) to see if global processing was faster than local processing. There was 222 University of Newcastle students participating in the experiment, partaking in two phases, one centred round global processing, the other around local processing, where there reaction times were recorded using a computer program and imputed into a data worksheet. Results indicated that, as predicted, global processing occurred at a faster rate than local processing. It was concluded that global features were processed at a faster rate than local features, giving evidence that more attention and focus is needed to identify the more intricate features of an object, however future studies should improve the validity of their studies by employing better randomisation in the gathering of participants.

Visual Perception is an efficient and flexible process( Lin, Lin, & Han, 2008) within the eye that assists humans and animals in acquiring information about their settings by detecting light that is reflected from surfaces, allowing individuals to understand what objects are present and the appropriate behaviour to respond in (Yantis, 2001). Understanding perception and the types of processes that are involved is vital in determining whether we perceive a scene feature by feature or whether the process is immediate upon the visualisation of the object (Navon, 1977). The methods involved in the processing of visual input selects the information that is worth receiving and attending to and focuses more attention on recognising the objects and features of that input. Many studies have focused their research on the hierarchical levels of perception as the focus of the manner in which visual processing is carried out, were larger features are constructed by an appropriate arrangement of minor features (Kimchi, Amishav, & Sulitzeanu-Kenan, 2009). This idea suggests that we focus our immediate attention on the whole object (global), while we spend more effort and time in recognising the more detailed features of those objects (local). The whole object is known as global features, which are predominantly word bound and are what is commonly referred to as the general word shape (Schiepers, 1978) whereas local features are the individual structures of those words and are small in shape. In relation to this, research has found that during the visual perception process of adhering to global and local tasks, our perception can be markedly modified or affected by not only our state of mind at the attention we give to that particular task, but also by the affective assets of the stimuli involved (Lin et al, 2008). In his study on visual perception and global processing, Navon (1977) reported that when an individual visualises an object, the global features of that particular object will be captured and recognised before the local features. He puts forward the motion that people’s visual process is organized so that they progress from global structuring towards more fined tuned processing. The study also found that when global letters are comprised of identical local letters, known as congruent, the time taken to recognise the local features was less than the time taken to recognise global features comprised on different smaller letters, known as conflicting. Participants of both Navon’s experiment and those of a study conducted by Kimchi, Amishav and Sulitzeanu- Kenan (2009), were reported to have reacted at a faster rate at a global level, as well as reporting that inconsistent information flowing from global to local process produced an interference with local level responses, but had little to no effect of global responses. In light of this information, the aim of this study was to replicate the...
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