Perception famously involves both bottom-up and top-down processes. The latter are influenced by our previous knowledge and expectations about the world. In recent years, many studies have focused on the role of expectations in perception in general, and in object processing in particular. Yet studying this question is not an easy feat, requiring—among other things—the creation and validation of appropriate stimuli. Here, we introduce the ObjAct stimulus-set of free-to-use, highly controlled real-life scenes, on which critical objects are pasted. All scenes depict human agents performing an action with an object that is either congruent or incongruent with the action. The focus on human actions yields highly constraining contexts, strengthening congruency effects. The stimuli were analyzed for low-level properties, using the SHINE toolbox to control for luminance and contrast, and using a deep convolutional neural network to mimic V1 processing and potentially discover other low-level factors that might differ between congruent and incongruent scenes. Two online validation studies (N = 500) were also conducted to assess the congruency manipulation and collect additional ratings of our images (e.g., arousal, likeability, visual complexity). We also provide full descriptions of the online sources from which all images were taken, as well as verbal descriptions of their content. Taken together, this extensive validation and characterization procedure makes the ObjAct stimulus-set highly informative and easy to use for future researchers in multiple fields, from object and scene processing, through top-down contextual effects, to the study of actions.
- Expectation violation
- Image processing