On visually-grounded reference production: testing the effects of perceptual grouping and 2D/3D presentation mode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

63 Downloads (Pure)


When referring to a target object in a visual scene, speakers are assumed to consider certain distractor objects to be more relevant than others. The current research predicts that the way in which speakers come to a set of relevant distractors depends on how they perceive the distance between the objects in the scene. It reports on the results of two language production experiments, in which participants referred to target objects in photo-realistic visual scenes. Experiment 1 manipulated three factors that were expected to affect perceived distractor distance: two manipulations of perceptual grouping (region of space and type similarity), and one of presentation mode (2D vs. 3D). In line with most previous research on visually-grounded reference production, an offline measure of visual attention was taken here: the occurrence of overspecification with color. The results showed effects of region of space and type similarity on overspecification, suggesting that distractors that are perceived as being in the same group as the target are more often considered relevant distractors than distractors in a different group. Experiment 2 verified this suggestion with a direct measure of visual attention, eye tracking, and added a third manipulation of grouping: color similarity. For region of space in particular, the eye movements data indeed showed patterns in the expected direction: distractors within the same region as the target were fixated more often, and longer, than distractors in a different region. Color similarity was found to affect overspecification with color, but not gaze duration or the number of distractor fixations. Also the expected effects of presentation mode (2D vs. 3D) were not convincingly borne out by the data. Taken together, these results provide direct evidence for the close link between scene perception and language production, and indicate that perceptual grouping principles can guide speakers in determining the distractor set during reference production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2247
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • reference production
  • perceptual grouping
  • overspecification
  • visual scene perception
  • 2D and 3D visual processing
  • eye tracking


Dive into the research topics of 'On visually-grounded reference production: testing the effects of perceptual grouping and 2D/3D presentation mode'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this