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Limiting the use of verbal coding in the Visual Patterns Test

Brown, Louise A. and Forbes, Douglas and McConnell, Jean (2006) Limiting the use of verbal coding in the Visual Patterns Test. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59 (7). pp. 1169-76. ISSN 1747-0218

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The aims of the study were to assess the availability of verbal coding and its effect on performance in a standard visual matrix task, the Visual Patterns Test (VPT). In a pilot study, participants were presented with the patterns from the VPT and were asked to name the shapes within them. Availability of verbal codes was low overall; however, some patterns resulted in a higher mean number of labels than others. A modified version of the test was created from those patterns that had produced the lowest mean number of labels. A total of 60 participants then took part in an experimental study, which was carried out to assess whether or not the availability of verbal coding affects task performance. It was found that the modified version resulted in a lower visual working-memory span than that of another version in which the availability of verbal coding was higher. The study confirmed that verbal coding does influence visual matrix task performance; however, the modified version now offers a selection of patterns from the VPT where verbal coding has been limited.