Undergraduate Psychology Research Methods Journal


This study explores the formation of mental images. Two opposing theories are reviewed concerning what influences which specific examples we choose to picture when supplied with vague concepts. The more prominent “descriptive theory” assumes that mental images are formed using the same methods of categorization and recall that other mental processes follow. Due to the descriptive theory’s similarity to the linguistic concept of prototypicality, the mental images formed by twelve participants are examined to determine whether linguistic prototypicality or our personal preferences have a higher impact in how mental images develop. A wide degree of variance in how participants perceived the concepts of “Dog,” “Bird,” “Vehicle,” and “Toy” implied that linguistic prototypicality has less of an impact on the formation of mental images when participants imagine the details of a story than when prompted to examine the same concepts outside of a story-like context. This does not support theories that linguistic prototypicality plays a part on the formation of mental images.

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