Does Global Precedence Occur with Displays of Multiple Hierarchical Objects?

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The present study revisits the global precedence literature by examining search through multiple hierarchical objects (e.g. G made of small H’s). Are global advantages prominent when the display contains multiple hierarchical objects? In the study, each object was a large letter (one of a set of ten) made of smaller letters (one of the same ten), thus having a global and local level of structure. Display set size varied from one to four of these hierarchical objects, and observers searched for one letter at a specified level (large or small). At display size one, the study replicates traditional global precedence displays. Consistent with many previous studies, there was a substantial global advantage — faster searches at the global level compared to the local level. At larger display set sizes, search continued at a faster rate (lower slope) for global letters than for local letters. Reasons for the global advantages will be discussed. The present study helps to extend the global precedence literature into the world of multiple hierarchical objects.

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Journal of Vision, v. 19, issue 10, art. 45b