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Bayesian confusions surrounding
simplicity and likelihood in perceptual organization

Peter A. van der Helm




Abstract. In the study of perceptual organization, the Occamian simplicity principle (which promotes efficiency) and the Helmholtzian likelihood principle (which promotes veridicality) have been claimed to be equivalent. Proposed models of these principles may well yield similar outcomes (especially in everyday situations), but as argued here, claims that the principles are equivalent confused subjective probabilities (which are used in Bayesian models of the Occamian simplicity principle) and objective probabilities (which are needed in Bayesian models of the Helmholtzian likelihood principle). Furthermore, Occamian counterparts of Bayesian priors and conditionals have led to another confusion, which seems to have been triggered by a dual role of regularity in perception. This confusion is discussed by contrasting complete and incomplete Occamian approaches to perceptual organization.


Acta Psychologica, 138, 337—346 (2011) Full text