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Impact Factor:0.917 | Ranking:Psychology 64 out of 76 | Psychology, Experimental 80 out of 85
Source:2016 Release of Journal Citation Reports, Source: 2015 Web of Science Data

Perceptual and Cognitive Characteristics of Common Playing Cards

  1. Jay A Olson
    1. Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
  1. Alym A Amlani
  2. Ronald A Rensink
  1. Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
  1. e-mail: jo{at}alumni.sfu.ca
  2. e-mail: rensink{at}psych.ubc.ca


We examined the perceptual and cognitive characteristics of the playing cards commonly used in the Western world. Specifically, we measured their visibility, memorability, likability, and verbal and visual accessibility. Based on visibility and memorability, four groups of cards were distinguished: the Ace of Spades, other Aces, number cards, and face cards. Within each of these groups, there were few differences due to value or suit. Based on likability and accessibility, three additional groups were distinguished: the Ace of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, and King of Hearts. Several interesting relations were found between how people remember, like, and access cards; some of these were similar to effects found in studies of visual perception, while others seemed entirely new. Our results demonstrate that rigorous examination of real-world stimuli can shed light on the perception of ordinary objects, as well as help us understand why magic works in the mind.

  • Received November 6, 2011.
  • Revision received February 8, 2012.
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