2012 volume 41(3) pages 268 – 286
doi:10.1068/p7175

Cite as:
Olson J A, Amlani A A, Rensink R A, 2012, "Perceptual and cognitive characteristics of common playing cards" Perception 41(3) 268 – 286

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Perceptual and cognitive characteristics of common playing cards

Jay A Olson, Alym A Amlani, Ronald A Rensink

Received 6 November 2011, in revised form 8 February 2012; published online 17 April 2012

Abstract. We examined the perceptual and cognitive characteristics of the playing cards commonly used in the Western world. Specifically, we measured their visibility, memorability, likability, and verbal and visual accessibility. Based on visibility and memorability, four groups of cards were distinguished: the Ace of Spades, other Aces, number cards, and face cards. Within each of these groups, there were few differences due to value or suit. Based on likability and accessibility, three additional groups were distinguished: the Ace of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, and King of Hearts. Several interesting relations were found between how people remember, like, and access cards; some of these were similar to effects found in studies of visual perception, while others seemed entirely new. Our results demonstrate that rigorous examination of real-world stimuli can shed light on the perception of ordinary objects, as well as help us understand why magic works in the mind.
Keywords:
magic, playing cards, visual perception, object perception, memory

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