The influence of the tested item on serial dependence in perceptual decisions

Mohsen Rafiei*, Andrey Chetverikov, Sabrina Hansmann-Roth, Árni Kristjansson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serial dependence in vision reflects how perceptual decisions can be biased by what we have recently perceived. Serial dependence studies test single items’ effects on perceptual decisions. However, our visual world contains multiple objects at any given moment, so it's important to understand how past experiences affect not only a single object but also perception in a more general sense. Here we asked the question: What effect does a single item have when there is more than one subsequently presented test item? We displayed a single line (inducer) at the screen center, then either a single test-line or two simultaneous test-lines, varying in orientation space to the inducer. Next, participants reported test-line orientation using a left or right located response circle (to indicate which test-line should be reported). The results demonstrated that the inducer influenced subsequent perceptual judgments of a test-line even when two test-lines were presented. Distant items caused repulsive serial dependence, while close items caused attractive serial dependence. This shows how a single inducer can influence test-line judgments, even when two test-lines are presented, and can produce attractive and repulsive serial dependence biases when the item to report is revealed after it has disappeared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Icelandic Research Fund, Radboud Excellence Fellowship (grant number #173947-052).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Other keywords

  • perceptual bias
  • perceptual decisions
  • serial dependence
  • visual attention
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Bias
  • Judgment


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