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Representation Equals Presentation?: Photographs of Objects Receive Less Attention and Are Less Well Remembered Than Real Objects
Schwan, S., Bauer, D., Kampschulte, L., Hampp, C.

Representation Equals Presentation?: Photographs of Objects Receive Less Attention and Are Less Well Remembered Than Real Objects

Journal of Media Psychology. 10.1027/1864-1105/a000166

In two experiments, the notion was tested that real objects receive more attention and are better remembered than respective photographs of objects. Both objects and photographs were presented behind glass in display showcases in a museum and, hence, were largely equivalent in terms of providing visual information. The results of Experiment 1 indicated that participants pay more attention to real objects than to respective photographs. In addition, Experiment 2 indicated that participants retrieve more memory details about an object if they have seen it as a real object in comparison with a respective photograph. This study provides the first evidence that observers take the different ontological status of photographs and real objects into account, processing the former less elaborately than the latter. More specifically, the present findings are compatible with an early-stage model, which assumes that attribution of authenticity is done heuristically at an early stage, thereby influencing the amount and depth of subsequent stages of information processing, including inspection time and cognitive elaboration.