Our need for associative coherence

Yael Afiki, Moshe Bar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The world around us consists of typical settings manifested as statistical regularities and stored as associations. These associations are beneficial for performance, and we rely on them as a source of stability in our perception of a coherent surrounding. What happens when such associativity is not apparent? We presented pairs of associated images and pairs of non-associated images and compared their corresponding effect on subsequent performance in three different visual perception paradigms: contrast-sensitivity, global vs. local perception, and critical-flicker-fusion. In all three experiments, performance was significantly inferior when preceded by images with no clear associative connection. We propose that these results reflect the need to find coherence in our environment. When such coherence is not easily detected, we seem to persist in seeking for it, which in turn poses a lingering cognitive load that taxes performance even in low-level perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant no. 673/17, and by the Sagol Family, both to MB.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


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