Preference for Illusory Contours: Beyond Object Symmetry, Familiarity, and Nameability

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Abstract

It has previously been reported that individuals prefer figures from which they can extract shapes via illusory contours (Kanisza figures) over figures in which this is not possible. However, based on the past research in this area, it is not possible to distinguish the influence of illusory contour perception from other factors such as the symmetry, familiarity, prototypicality, and nameability of the perceived shape. Here, we investigate the influence of illusory contours in the absence of these confounding variables by measuring participants’ aesthetic/liking ratings for symmetric Kanisza figures and for unfamiliar and asymmetric Kanisza figures. Results show that illusory contours do indeed influence preference above and beyond any effects of these other factors.

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