Monsters for science

Earlier this year, Abby Sussman, Danny Oppenheimer and I published a paper on latent scope biases in higher cognition. One of the fun things about writing the paper is that to prepare the materials for the experiment, we worked with Mike Lariccia, a friend who’s also a fantastic illustrator of graphic novels.

For our experiments, Mike illustrated “monster” parts that could be rearranged to build a complete monster. For instance, he designed a head:
Head A
…a torso:
Torso B
…and arms:
Arm C (1)
…and legs:
Legs D
and he did so in a way that allowed for parts to be rearranged, which could result in various different permutations of monsters, e.g.,
And our research assistant at the time, David Mackenzie, wrote a script that automatically built all possible monster combinations (assuming matching arms).
The result is a set of unique materials that allow for systematic variation between monster parts. Those materials are useful in empirical studies on categorization, memory, explanatory reasoning, and perhaps many other domains of higher cognition. We couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out, so many thanks to Mike! With his permission, I’ve made available the full set of stimuli here:

  • Stimuli from Sussman, Khemlani, and Oppenheimer (2014) by Mike Lariccia (zip)

Of course, if you are interested in using the stimuli for your experiment (or for any other purpose), you’re most welcome to them. However, if you do use them, please credit Mike by following the instructions provided in the zip file.