VVIQ: Avoid imitations

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A ‘Rolex watch’ sold in a street market is unlikely to be genuine. One avoids an imitator version passed off as the real thing.

The VVIQ is a well-known instrument for the investigation of visual imagery vividness. The instrument has been used in multiple published investigations. Recently an alternative version of the VVIQ has appeared on the Internet under the label “Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz“. The data obtained from the VVIQuiz version have not been shown to be psychometrically valid when compared to the real thing.

Users need to be aware that the VVIQuiz appears to have a systematic bias towards low vividness scores. Pending detailed psychometric testing, scores obtained from the Quiz version cannot be assumed to be valid. It is always best to avoid imitations.

Beware of an In-Built Bias

Operating within a website called the Aphantasia Website, the Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz is passed off as the VVIQ. It is likely that procedural changes from an in-built bias in the VVIQuiz will produce scores of lower average vividness than the VVIQuestionnaire.

The VVIQuiz purports to measure the vividness of one’s visual imagination. The introduction claims that the “VVIQ is proven to be an accurate test of the vividness for which you can imagine people, objects, or settings in your mind. It is the go-to psychometric for researchers studying extreme imagination, and is often used to identify aphantasia.”

The blurb continues:

“This “aphantasia quiz” consists of four scenarios and asks you to rank how vividly you can picture them in your mind on a scale of one to five.  Each scenario asks you to imagine the face of a loved one, the image of your favourite shop, or a beautiful landscape — and to rate the vividness of the details within each scene.

Since the VVIQuestionnaire was first developed in 1973 by British psychologist David Marks, it has been referenced in over 1200 studies of mental imagery and been given considerable attention in the domains of psychology, philosophy, and more recently, cognitive neuroscience.”

Biasing Instructions

The VVIQuiz leads the participant towards ratings of low vividness. They state:

“For each scenario try to form a mental picture of the people, objects, or setting. Consider carefully your experience. Does some type of image come to mind?  Rate how vivid the image is using the five-point scale described below.  If you do not have a visual image, rate vividness as ‘1’. Only use ‘5’ for images that are as lively and vivid as real seeing.

Please note that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions and that it’s not necessarily desirable to experience imagery or, if you do, to have more vivid imagery. [DFM note: A quiz normally does have right and wrong answers, which is one of the reasons the ‘VVIQuiz’ is a misleading instrument.]

The rating scale is as follows:

  1. No image at all, I only “know” I am thinking of the object
  2. Dim and vague image
  3. Moderately realistic and vivid
  4. Realistic and reasonably vivid
  5. Perfectly realistic, as vivid as real seeing

Biasing Slider

The VVIQuiz contains a slider which is set at zero. Most likely the slider setting will tend to bias users towards lower vividness scores. To test this hypothesis it would be interesting to compare a distribution of original VVIQuestionnaire scores with VVIQuiz scores obtained under three conditons:

i) Slider starting position at zero vividness

ii) Slider starting position at maximum vividness

iii) Slider starting position at midpoint vividness

The current version of the VVIQuiz forces all participants to start with the slider at zero. The instructions state:

“For each item, drag the sliding scale to align with the vividness of your visualization.’

After stating the first item, a slider is presented which shows a starting position at zero vividness.

The exact same slider is shown for every single item.

It seems likely that the positioning of the slider and the statement directly above will bias users’ ratings towards the low vividness end of the 5-point scale.

Conclusion

Until the VVIQuiz has been shown to be psychometrically equivalent to the VVIQuestionnaire, users are advised to treat the VVIQuiz with extreme caution. The best policy is to avoid it altogether.