Week 6: Stimuli

Welcome back!

First, if you want to help us out even more, make sure you check out our sign up page and everything we’ve got posted over there. Feel free to vote and comment without officially signing up, though!

This week, we need your help to pick the best stimuli for our experiment! Be sure to check out the results of last week’s vote down below, too.


CLICK HERE to help with the stimuli! Read below to find out why we’re doing this.

The pictures we are using are from the Bank of Standardized stimuli (BOSS) pictorial dataset, a set of more than 1400 pictures created by Dr. Martin Brodeur (as well as Dr. Martin Lepage, Dr. Katherine Guérard, and many others). The dataset has been designed and tested to be standard across a variety of factors that are published in several publications available alongside the dataset. It was designed as a research tool to be freely shared (with credit given to the researchers responsible) for cognitive and psycholinguistic research. Check out their website, where you can find the entire set as well as the various studies that have been published!

We’ve picked a subset of these pictures to use in our experiment and we need your help testing them in a similar way to the testing done previously with the BOSS dataset. In our experiment, we’re asking participants to remember a list of pictures, so we need to ensure that a typical participant would know the name of the object. We’re going to give you 10 pictures and ask you to just write down what they are. It might seem simple, but this work is actually very important! We need to know that participants weren’t able to write a picture down because they didn’t remember it and not because they didn’t know what it was.  This process is called norming. The BOSS dataset is such an awesome tool because other researchers have already done this for many features that could potentially impact how participants do, such as color, size of the object, brightness, and perspective. Without a dataset like this, we and many other researchers would have had to use (likely much simpler) drawings instead of high-quality photographs.


Now for the results from last week’s vote on experimental design!

Sounds like you guys were pretty much in agreement that we should go with easy words and 30 images for our study. Our participants should be grateful that they don’t have to remember the hard words, and 30 pictures will be a happy medium. That’s what we’ll do then!


We did have some questions last week that are definitely worth answering, too.

Eshmoney said: I thought of another question about the study design: Are the participants going to get all of the pictures at once or are they going to get them one at a time?

This is an important thing to think about with our experimental design, absolutely! The plan is to give each picture one at a time for one second. One at a time should help keep people from getting overwhelmed or running out of time to scan through all of the pictures, while one second is long enough to fully see the picture without giving too much time to work on memorizing them. How else might it change our design or results if we gave the pictures all at once or for a different amount of time instead?


PumpkinPie54 asked: With easier words like ”dog”, would a person picture the image they were given, or their own dog? Since “dog” is a pretty relatable word, and since most people have dogs, and most people don’t have inner dialogues, wouldn’t they remember the picture… as another picture? Sorry if that sounded confusing, and if i am getting a bit off-topic.

That’s an interesting point! When we try to memorize things, we often try to link them to our own experiences and ideas. If we think about our own dogs when trying to remember the word “dog”, it probably would be easier than if we didn’t have a dog and thus didn’t link it to what we’re memorizing. Hopefully, though, by giving 30 images in a row for only a second, participants won’t really have enough time to build any kind of tricks or mnemonics that will influence our results. And by giving pictures rather than just popping the written word “dog” up on the screen, we’re helping to suggest that particular dog in the image to people rather than letting them come up with whatever image they want to!


That’s it for this week!

Here’s the link one more time for the stimuli testing we’d like you to do.

What did you think about our pictures? Did you look through the BOSS dataset website and find anything cool we should know about? Tell us about it down in the comments! Next week, we’ll start collecting the data and talk about some pitfalls and considerations when running an experiment.

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