User generated descriptions of individual images versus labels of groups of images: A comparison using basic level theory
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Although images are visual information sources with little or no text associated with them, users still tend to use text to describe images and formulate queries. This is because digital libraries and search engines provide mostly text query options and rely on text annotations for representation and retrieval of the semantic content of images. While the main focus of image research is on indexing and retrieval of individual images, the general topic of image browsing and indexing, and retrieval of groups of images has not been adequately investigated. Comparisons of descriptions of individual images as well as labels of groups of images supplied by users using cognitive models are scarce. This work fills this gap. Using the basic level theory as a framework, a comparison of the descriptions of individual images and labels assigned to groups of images by 180 participants in three studies found a marked difference in their level of abstraction. Results confirm assertions by previous researchers in LIS and other fields that groups of images are labeled using more superordinate level terms while individual image descriptions are mainly at the basic level. Implications for design of image browsing interfaces, taxonomies, thesauri, and similar tools are discussed.