In the present study, we investigated the effects of surrounding frames on visual search for line orientation. Every line item presented in the display was surrounded by a square frame of identical size and orientation. The orientations of the frames, as well as those of the target and distractor lines, were either vertical or tilted. In six experiments, the surrounding frames caused substantial changes in search efficiency for vertical targets and for tilted targets. The search asymmetry between the two types of targets was reversed when the frame was tilted at the same angle as the tilted line. Several variations of the frames (a pair of parallel lines, squares with gaps, and squares with circular contours inside) also changed search efficiency significantly. Taken together, these results imply that three different sources contribute to frame effects: distractor roles played by the frame components, orientation contrast from the frame contour, and interference in local orientation processing (Hayward & Burke, 2000). Implications of the present findings are discussed in reference to rod-and-frame effects (Witkin & Asch, 1948) and to the effects of a large frame surrounding an entire display of lines (Marendaz, 1998; Treisman, 1985).
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