Research&publications

1) The perception of contraries

In many fields of the Cognitive Sciences, research topics refer to opposites. Consider, for instance, the amount of space devoted to the study of antonyms in the following areas: linguistics and cognitive semantics (Croft & Cruse, 2004; Jones, 2002; Kennedy & McNally, 2005); the matrix of opposite traits presupposed by many theories of personality and by their corresponding diagnostic tools (Cattel, 1945; Eysenk, 1985; McCrae e Costa, 1985, 1992); the models of brain dynamics (Kelso & Engstrom, 2006), body motion (Laban, 1985) and emotions in terms of bipolar dimensions (Schimmack, 2001; Scherer, 2003) .
Despite the assumption that variability between objects, individuals and emotions etc. needs to be modelled in terms of opposite characteristics (e.g. high-low, fast-slow, pleasant-unpleasant…), there are very few studies which systematically investigate the cognitive structure of opposition. Furthermore, there is no theory providing either a unifying view or a proven methodology which would assist in the understanding of the cognitive foundations of the various structures of opposition in human experience.
In the last fifteen years we have been working on a systematic analysis in order to assess the possibility of establishing a new cognitive theory of opposites grounded in perception. This has involved using both phenomenal and quantitative methods as used in the Experimental Phenomenology of Perception and Phenomenological Psychophysics (for an overview see Bianchi & Savardi, 2008, 2002; Savardi, 2009). This has led to the development of various studies of the perceptual conditions associated with the recognition of two objects, movements, gestures, or properties and a series of joint studies with scholars in various fields. Specifically our research interests concern:

a) the spatial foundation of the perception of contrariety
– Bianchi, I., Bertamini, M. (2013). Anisotropy and polarization of space: Evidence from naïve optics and phenomenological psychophysics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36 (5), 545-546. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X13000332
– Savardi, U., Bianchi I. (2009). The spatial path to contrariety. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 63-92). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.
-Bianchi I., & Savardi, U. (2012). The cognitive dimensions of contrariety. In: J-Y. Bezieau & G. Payette (Eds) The Square of Opposition. A general framework for cognition (pp. 443-470). New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group. ISBN 978-3-0343-0537-2
-Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2008). The perception of Contraries. Roma: Aracne.

b) the study of spatial opposites in terms of phenomenological psychophysics, focusing on:
the topological and metric structure of spatial opposites
– Bianchi, I., Paradis, C., Burro, R., van de Weijer, J., Nyström, M. and Savardi U. (submitted). Identification of intermediates by eye and by hand.
– Bianchi, I., Burro, R., Torquati, S., & Savardi, U. (2013). The middle of the road: perceiving intermediates. Acta Psychologica, 144 (1), 121-135. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.05.005
– Bianchi, I., Savardi, U., & Kubovy, M. (2011). Dimensions and their poles: A metric and topological theory of opposites. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26 (8), 1232-1265. DOI: 10.1080/01690965.2010.520943.
– Bianchi, I., Savardi, U., & Tacchella, P. (2002). Fuzzy Logic: un’applicazione nella fenomenologia sperimentale della contrarietà. [Fuzzy Logic: how it applies to the experimental phenomenology of perception] In: U. Savardi & I. Bianchi (eds). Le Relazioni Empiriche. Per una Scienza delle Relazioni in Psicologia [Empirical Relationships. For a Science of Relationships in Psychology ]. Milano: Franco Angeli (pp. 197-232).

the unidimensionality of opposite spatial properties:
– Bianchi, I., Savardi, U., & Burro, R. (2011). Perceptual ratings of opposite spatial properties: Do they lie on the same dimension?. Acta Psychologica, 138 (3), 405-418. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.08.003.
– Savardi, U., Bianchi, I., & Burro, R. (2009). From opposites to dimensions: filling in the gaps. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 275-294). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.
– Burro, R., Savardi, U. & Bianchi, I. (2008). Are Opposites Unidimensional?, Gestalt Theory, 2, 191-195.
– Burro, R. (2009). Measuring in experimental phenomenology and carrying out phenomenological psychophysics: the case of contrary properties. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 249-274). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.

the perception of contrariety in mirror images:
– Bianchi, I., Burro, R., Pezzola, R., Savardi, U. (2017). Matching Visual and Acoustic Mirror FormsSymmetry 2017, 9, 39. doi:10.3390/sym9030039
– Bianchi, I. & Savardi U. (submitted). Spatial Contraries and Mirrors. In: Hubbard, T., Spatial Biases in Perception and Cognition. Cambridge University Press
– Bianchi, I., Bertamini, M., & Savardi, U. (2015). Differences between predictions of how a reflection behaves based on the behaviour of an object, Acta Psychologica, 161, 54-63. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.08.008
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2014). Grounding naive physics and optics in perception. The Baltic International Yearbook for Cognition Logic and Communication, vol. 6 (Perception and Concepts), 1- 15. DOI: 10.4148/biyclc.v9i0.1081
– Savardi, U, & Bianchi I. (2014). Contraries in art: a glance at the structure of mirror reflections. Gestalt Theory, 36 (3), 209-226. (ISSN 0170-057 X)
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2012). What fits in into a mirror: naïve beliefs on the field of view of mirrors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38 (5), 1144-1158, doi: 10.1037/a0027035.
– Savardi, U., Bianchi, I., Bertamini, M. (2010). Naive prediction of orientation and motion in mirrors. From what we see to what we expect reflections to do. Acta Psychologica, 134 (1), 1-15.
– Bianchi, I. & Savardi U. (2009). Contrariety in plane mirror reflections. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 113-128). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2008). The relationship perceived between the real body and the mirror image. Perception, 5, 666-687.
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2005). Looking at yourself in the Mirror: structures of Perceptual Opposition. Gestalt Theory, 3, 204-220.
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2005). L’esperienza di identità-contrarietà con la propria immagine allo specchio. In: U. Savardi, & I. Bianchi (eds). L’identità empirica. Studi e ricerche sull’esperienza di identità (pp. 185-206). Milano: FrancoAngeli.

the perception of contrariety between figures:
– Bracco, F., Bianchi, I., Chiorri, C., Burro, R., Savardi, U. (2009). Investigating contraries by means of change detection. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 93-112). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.
– Bianchi, I. & Savardi, U. (2006). Oppositeness in visually perceived forms. Gestalt Theory, 4, 354-374.

the perception of contrariety between human postures and gestures:
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U., Burro, R., Martelli, M.F. (2014). Doing the opposite to what another person is doing. Acta Psychologica. 151, 117-133. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2014.06.003

– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2001a). La percezione della forma dei gesti identici e contrari. [The perceived form of identical and opposite gestures] DiPAV Quaderni, FrancoAngeli, 1, 135-168.

◊ the phenomenological structure of spatial opposites and the understanding of descriptive negation:
– Bianchi, I., Savardi, U., Burro, R., & Torquati, S. (2011). Negation and psychological dimensions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 23(3), 275-301. DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2011.493154

◊ the role of spatial contrariety in visuo-spatial problem-solving:
– Branchini, E., Bianchi, I., Burro, R., Capitani, E. & Savardi, U. (2016). Can contraries prompt intuition in insight problem solving? Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1962. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01962

– Branchini, E., Burro, R., Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2015). Contraries as an effective strategy in geometrical problem solving, Thinking & Reasoning, 21 (4), 397-430. DOI: 10.1080/13546783.2014.994035
– Branchini, E., Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2015). Productive thinking: the role of perception and perceiving opposition. Gestalt Theory, 37 (1) 7-24.
– Branchini, E., Burro, R., & Savardi, U. (2009). Contraries in productive thinking. In: U. Savardi (2009) (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 203-224). McGraw-Hill.

the application of the perceptual laws of contrariety in cognitive theories of humour and irony:
– Bianchi, I., Canestrari, C., Roncoroni, A.M., Burro, R., Branchini, E., Savardi, U. (submitted) The effects of modulating contrast in verbal irony as a cue for giftedness. Humor
– Canestrari, C., Bianchi, I., and Cori, V. (submitted). Shifting the poles to the middle. De-polarizing verbal irony.
– Canestrari, C., & Bianchi, I. (2013). From perception of contraries to humorous incongruities. In M. Dynel (ed.) Developments in Linguistic Humour Theory (pp.3-24). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.Canestrari, C., & Bianchi, I. (2012). Perception of contrariety in jokes. Discourse Processes, 49 (7), 539-564. DOI: 10.1080/0163853X.2012.710524
– Canestrari, C., & Bianchi I. (2009). The perception of humor: from script opposition to the phenomenological rules of contrariety. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 113-128). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.

2) Learning, understanding and renewing the contents and methods of the ephp.

The project aims to continue and at the same time renew the studies carried out relating to the theoretical and experimental approach to the analyses of phenomenal experience. Studies in this area were first carried out by Gestalt psychologists (Wertheimer, 1923; Koffka, 1935; Kohler, 1947; Metzger, 1941, Arnheim, 1954) and further developed in the Italian tradition (Bozzi, 1989; 1990; Gerbino, 1983; Kanizsa, 1980, Massironi, 1989; Musatti, 1926; Vicario,1975). The ephpLab group has had the great fortune to work with Paolo Bozzi, one of the most illustrious scholars of the ephp.
Part of this project involves the realization of the Ephp_database which aims to provide a frame of reference for research and scholars on the ephp. It makes available to users a collection of both older and more recent books, chapters, and papers which should prove useful for those wishing to acquire knowledge and information regarding the theoretical and the experimental profile of the phenomenological approach to the study of perception. Among the issues which the group have worked on are:

the concept of error in the ephp (descriptive error, stimulus error, the experience of error associated with the perception of illusion):
– Savardi, U., Kubovy, M., & Bianchi, I. (2012). The Genesis of the Awarness of Illusions. In C. Calabi (ed.), Perceptual illusions. Philosophical and Psychological Essays (pp. 75-85). Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan..
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (1999) (eds). Gli errori dello stimolo. [ Stimulus errors] Verona, IT: Cierre.
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (1998). Ulteriori metamorfosi dell’errore dello stimolo. [Further metamorphoses of the stimulus error] Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, XXV (2).

the experimental phenomenology of perception, phenomenological psychophysics, percept-percept coupling and the inter-observational method:
– Savardi, U. & Bianchi, I. (2012). Coupling Epstein’s and Bozzi’s percept-percept coupling. Gestalt Theory, 34 (2), 191-200. ISSN 0170-057 X
– Burro, R., Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2010). Experimental Phenomenology and Phenomenological Psychophysics: the perception of contraries. In: A. Bastianelli, G. Vidotto (eds). G. Fechner Day 2010: Proceedings of the 26th (pp. 495-500), International Society of Psychophysics.
– Burro, R. (2009). Measuring in experimental phenomenology and carrying out phenomenological psychophysics: the case of contrary properties. In U. Savardi (ed). The perception and cognition of contraries (pp. 249-274). Milano: Mc-Graw Hill.
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2003). Metodo interosservativo ed eventi sotto osservazione: l’ostensione dell’esperienza di spazio nella fenomenologia sperimentale della percezione [The method of interobeservation and events under observation: the ostensive characterization of the experience of space in the experimental phenomenology of perception]. In U. Savardi & A. Mazzocco (a cura di), Figura e sfondo. Temi e variazioni per Paolo Bozzi [Figure and background: Themes and variations for Paolo Bozzi] (pp. 107-130). Padova: Cleup.

the direct perception of relationships (the main feature of which is the project developed by the group on contraries ):
– Bianchi, I. (2007). La Teoria della Gestalt come Teoria delle Relazioni. In: Arfelli, A., Bianchi,I., Galli,G., Nicolini, P., Pojaghi, B. e Simeone, D. (eds). La rilevanza della Gestalttheorie per la ricerca psicologica. Macerata: Edizioni Simple.
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2008). Contrariety as perceptual relationship, Gestalt Theory, 2, 106-120.
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (eds) (2005). L’identità empirica. Studi e ricerche sull’esperienza di identità. [Empirical identity. Studies on the experience of identity] Milano, IT: Franco Angeli
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (eds) (2003). Le Relazioni Empiriche. Per una scienza delle Relazioni in Psicologia. [Empirical Relationships. For a Science of Relationships in Psychology] Milano, IT: Franco Angeli.
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2003). Fenomenologia sperimentale della contrarietà: origini e sviluppi. In: U. Savardi & I. Bianchi (a cura di). Le Relazioni Empiriche. Per una scienza delle Relazioni in Psicologia [Empirical Relationships. For a Science of Relationships in Psychology]. Milano: Franco Angeli (pp. 101-128).
Bianchi, I., Bressanelli, D., Nucci, M., & Savardi, U. (2003). Se Aristotele, allora Tversky. Spunti per una fenomenologia sperimentale delle relazioni. In: U. Savardi & I. Bianchi (a cura di). Le Relazioni Empiriche. Per una scienza delle Relazioni in Psicologia[Empirical Relationships. For a Science of Relationships in Psychology]. Milano: Franco Angeli (pp. 171-196)
– Savardi, U., & Bianchi, I. (2002). Una teoria (?) per i fatti e le relazioni. [A theory for facts and relationships] Teorie & Modelli, n.s., VII (2-3), 219-228.
– Bianchi, I., & Savardi, U. (2002). Sulla fenomenologia dell’identità e della contrarietà [On the phenomenology of identity and contrariety]. Teorie & Modelli, n.s., VII (2-3), 229-248.