What is the VVIQ?
is a self-report measure of the clarity and liveliness of visual imagery and, in so doing, aims to evoke images that vary in vividness, ambiance, and feeling as well. The instructions state the following:
“Visual imagery refers to the ability to visualize, that is, the ability to form mental pictures, or to ‘see in the mind’s eye’. Marked individual differences are found in the strength and clarity of reported visual imagery and these differences are of considerable psychological interest.
The aim of this test is to determine the vividness of your visual imagery. The items of the test will possibly bring certain images to your mind. You are asked to rate the vividness of each image by reference to the five-point scale given below. For example, if your image is ‘vague and dim’, then give it a rating of 4. After each item, write the appropriate number in the box provided. The first box is for an image obtained with your eyes open and the second box is for an image obtained with your eyes closed. Before you turn to the items on the next page, familiarize yourself with the different categories on the rating scale. Throughout the test, refer to the rating scale when judging the vividness of each image. Try to do each item separately, independent of how you may have done other items.
Complete all items for images obtained with the eyes open and then return to the beginning of the questionnaire and rate the image obtained for each item with your eyes closed. Try and give your ‘eyes closed’ rating independently of the ‘eyes open’ rating. The two ratings for a given item may not in all cases be the same.”
The Rating Scale in the VVIQ
The five-point rating scale of the VVIQ is presented below. Some researchers prefer to reverse the numerical scale to make 5 = perfectly clear and as vivid as normal vision, and 1 = no image at all, you only “know” that you are thinking of an object.
The 16 VVIQ Items
The 16 items are arranged in blocks of four, in which each has a theme and at least one item in each cluster describes a visual image that includes movement. Each theme provides a narrative to guide a progression of mental imagery. It is noted that at least one item in each cluster describes an activity or movement, indexing liveliness (8 of 16 items in total). The aim of the VVIQ is to assess visual imagery vividness under conditions which allow a progressive development of scenes, situations, or events as naturally as possible. The items are intended to evoke sufficient interest, meaning, and affect conducive to image generation. Participants rate the vividness of their images separately with eyes open and eyes closed.
For a small minority of people called “aphantasics”, the capacity for voluntary visual imagery is unavailable. In the absence of mental imagery, consciousness consists of “unseen” memories, “unheard” words, “unheard” music, and “invisible” imagery. This minority needs to employ more generic, verbal methods to recall events, and to plan goals and future activity—compensatory strengths that remain under-investigated. This is an ongoing research topic with, currently, more questions than answers.
An online version of an altered version of the VVIQ is available here.
However, in spite of 460,000 people completing the online VVIQ, the latter has a different rating scale and instructions. The online variant of the VVIQ must be used and interpreted with caution.
Research using the VVIQ
To date, around 2000 studies have used the VVIQ or (VMIQ)
to measure imagery vividness.
Researchers can freely use the VVIQ in their research projects without asking for permission. However, if the user wishes to compare their research findings with the existing VVIQ literature, it is essential that the original instructions and format are adhered to.