Cognitive Science 40 (7):1617-1647 (2016)

In two experiments, we investigate to what extent various visual saliency cues in realistic visual scenes cause speakers to overspecify their definite object descriptions with a redundant color attribute. The results of the first experiment demonstrate that speakers are more likely to redundantly mention color when visual clutter is present in a scene as compared to when this is not the case. In the second experiment, we found that distractor type and distractor color affect redundant color use: Speakers are most likely to overspecify if there is at least one distractor object present that has the same type, but a different color than the target referent. Reliable effects of distractor distance were not found. Taken together, our results suggest that certain visual saliency cues guide speakers in determining which objects in a visual scene are relevant distractors, and which not. We argue that this is problematic for algorithms that aim to generate human-like descriptions of objects, since these generally select properties that help to distinguish a target from all objects that are present in a scene.
Keywords Distractor distance  Overspecification  Definite reference  Visual clutter  Computational models
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DOI 10.1111/cogs.12297
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A Feature Integration Theory of Attention.Anne Treisman - 1980 - Cognitive Psychology 12:97-136.

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