The Mechanisms of Categorical Influences on Visual Search



In order to compare the mechanisms of such influences, described in modern paradigms, we use two parameters: the accessibility of categorical information and the form of its representation. The parameter of accessibility concerns the temporal aspect: on which stage of a search task the participants have access to the categorical information. This information could beavailable during a search task or before it during the target presentation stage. The second parameter is a form of representation of categorical information. It could be represented directly as categorical knowledge, or indirectly by an object’s visual features. Our analysis showsthe following: If categorical information is available only at the target demonstration stageand represented indirectly by visual features, then it influences visual search by recalling a prototype of a target category, the visual features of which then form a search template. If a category of a scene is also available, then it helps to choose the most relevant zones in a scene for search. Additional information of distractors’ categories will draw participants’ attention to the objects which are categorically similar to a target. Finally, if categorical information isavailable directly during the search stage, it influences our attention more than visual features. There fore, we conclude that the mechanism of categorical influences on visual search depends on the amount of categorical information available to a participant. The more categorical information of objects and a scene is available to participants, the more it influences visual search performance

General Information

Keywords: Visual Search, Categories, Attention, Top-Down Processes, Bottom-Up Processes

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology of Psychology

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Morozov M.I., Spiridonov V.F. The Mechanisms of Categorical Influences on Visual Search. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2019. Vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 280–294. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2019.305. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


Treisman A., Galade G. A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognitive psychology, 1980, vol. 12, pp. 97–136.

Information About the Authors

Maxsim I. Morozov, researcher, The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:

Vladimir F. Spiridonov, Doctor of Psychology, Professor Dean of Psychological Department, Head of Laboratory of Cognitive Research, Psychological Department, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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