Visual Discrimination, Language and Cognitive Closure


Dog Genius

The graphic above came through my Facebook feed overnight, and while it’s an obvious fun exercise in detecting “likes and differences”, it’s also too much to resist the opening invitation to be considered a “genius”.  The genius aspect however is the point (or more correctly the points) the designer makes in allowing the onlooker to feel accomplished after visually surveying the eight dogs to find which dog is different.

In stating “which dog” rather than the plural, you’re being framed to look for only one dog as different from the other seven.  When you find one obvious difference you think you’re done.  But if you look further you’ll begin to notice other differences.  And as soon as that occurs you realize that they’re all actually different from each other.

Taking dog #4 as the “reference”, we see the following differences:  #1 has no dot on his nose.  #2 has only one line on his front left paw.  #3 has no line over his nose.  #5 has no line on his tail.  #6 has no line on his front right paw.  #7 has no curve over his right rear leg.  #8 has no clump of hair on his head.

The graphic turns out to be a nice illustration of the virtue in tempering cognitive impulsivity and premature closure with a reflective cognitive style.  It also shows how much of what we do during guided activities is shaped by language and mediated by vision.

One thought on “Visual Discrimination, Language and Cognitive Closure

  1. A great example of the role of language in vision and a great example of the exploration continuum: exploration versus automaticity. Vision explores. Sight reacts. For an adult, reading an acuity chart is an example of automatic sight, for a preschooler, reading an acuity chart may be an example of exploratory vision.

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