Term of Award

Summer 2016

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lawrence Locker Jr.

Committee Member 1

Bradley R. Sturz

Committee Member 2

Ty. W. Boyer


The current study sought to expand upon the research of geometric shape processing in relation to theories of domain specificity and modularity. Sturz, Edwards, and Boyer (2014) presented results for possible processing differences between geometric shapes and geometric shape words. The authors found that when processing a bi-dimensional sample (i.e., a shape word transposed inside either the same or a different picture of a shape), there was asymmetric interference. Shape words would interfere with identifying the correct shape in a delayed match-to-sample (DMTS) task but there was no such interference from geometric shapes when identifying shape words. It was concluded that geometric shapes activate a visual representation only, while shape words activate both visual and verbal representations. Sturz et al. (2014) proposed this was possible evidence in favor of an independent processing module involved in the early processing of geometric shapes. The current study further tested whether geometric shapes are processed independently from linguistics (i.e., verbal representations) by utilizing DMTS tasks along with imbedded distractor tasks (DTs). It was hypothesized that if a DT was based on visual information (i.e., nonsense shapes; adapted from Lin & Yeh, 2014), it should only affect the performance for geometric shape matching, whereas a verbal DT (i.e., strings of letters) should affect both shape and shape word matching. Results showed evidence that only the nonsense shape DTs negatively impacted performance times for geometric shapes whereas the shape words were negatively impacted by both DTs.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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