Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire Review and Commentary


Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire

VVIQ Review and Commentary

Larry Neal Gowdy - Copyright ©2024 - January 06, 2024


A popular self-test of hyperphantasia to aphantasia is the VVIQ (Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire). It is reported that the VVIQ has been used in over 2,000 different research projects. Numerous sources have the full VVIQ (or a version thereof), so there is no need to repeat the questionnaire in full here.

Several oddities stand-out within the VVIQ, but for the moment the focus is on three of the oddities.

[1] Lack of Descriptions

The VVIQ was designed with the singular goal to evaluate the clarity of a person's "visual imagery". No additional inferences ought to be interpreted from the VVIQ test results.

However, typical VVIQ sources weakly describe "visual imagery" as being the act of 'mental images', 'mental pictures', and 'seeing with the mind's eye', but no known VVIQ explains what is actually intended by 'visual imagery', 'mental images', 'mental pictures', and 'seeing with the mind's eye'.

As is common within all languages, everyone interprets words to mean what the individual himself has experienced in life. The absence of descriptions results in most participants merely assuming that "visual imagery" means what each participant wants it to mean.

Some individuals interpret "visual imagery" to imply photograph-like images like what are seen with open eyes. Some other individuals interpret "visual imagery" to imply the vividly fluid spheres of simultaneously reasoned interactive relationships of all five senses like what was sensed and actively analyzed with eyes open.

The VVIQ's results are useful if the results are limited to individuals whose "mental imagery" is of photograph-like images, but the VVIQ's results are unable to encompass "mental imagery" that is actively analytic. Generally, and as has been recorded throughout history, it is very common for people to think of there being two types of 'awareness': the normal mind that is not much aware of the world surrounding a person's life, and the more-aware mind that is often misunderstood to be a type of enlightenment. The VVIQ was designed to evaluate the 'normal mind's mental imagery', and the VVIQ does an adequate enough job of doing so, but the VVIQ was not designed to evaluate the 'more-aware mind's mental imagery', and so the VVIQ cannot do so.

When adding descriptions to the VVIQ, the test can then be better understood of its usefulness, while the VVIQ can then also be better understood to only be relative to a specific segment of the population. The VVIQ should never be deemed to be a measure of all people's "mental imagery".

[2] Contradictions of Wording

Some VVIQ tests' instructions say to answer the first questions while one's eyes are open, and to then answer the questions again while one's eyes are closed, but the questions only state to think 'eyes closed' thoughts of things that you have previously observed. As one individual humorously remarked, "How can I read the questions with my eyes closed?'.

Other VVIQ tests include the idea of seeing mental imagery as vividly as seeing objects with one's eyes open. The act of physically 'seeing' with the eyes is a physical sensory perception of specific wave frequencies. The act of 'mental imagery' is performed without the eyes perceiving wave frequencies. Regardless of the nuances of the English language, it is not possible to 'see' images when the eyes are not perceiving wave frequencies. Perhaps some individuals are unable to mentally distinguish between sensory perceptions and mental imaginations, but regardless of what the authors may have intended, the authors' choices of words caused the instructions and questions to be too vague, which can too easily lead to perceived contradictions.

All spoken languages are inadequate for conveying depths of meaning, and though a general written conversation is able to convey an adequate enough meaning, it is very important for technical papers to intricately describe each specific term so that the reader will not mistake the term to imply something different. Without the descriptions, the paper's sentences will appear to contradict to individuals who have a sizable quantity of firsthand experience with the topic.

[3] Predetermined Outcomes

The VVIQ's design is only able to produce one specific predetermined conclusion from a list of five. The VVIQ does not permit variances of 'mental imagery' beyond binary yes-no outcomes.

As an example, one person's 'mental imagery' might be of photograph-like images, but another person's 'mental imagery' might be recalling memories of the five sensory perceptions firsthand experienced while with eyes open, which produces a '5D-like action movie'.

The VVIQ's design (perhaps inadvertently) force-fits 'photograph-like' mental imagery into being the only possible form of 'imaginative seeing'.

The VVIQ questions also purposefully avoid describing and clarifying to the reader which manners of 'imagination' are to be performed. The VVIQ does not specify whether the reader is to fantasize as if physically looking at an object with eyes open, or to fantasize within specific regions of the mind. The absence of at least two of the variations strongly suggests that the VVIQ design was created without a knowledge mental focusing, and since all known '-phantasia' research projects also omitted different mental focuses, then it is assumed that the knowledge may not exist within modern science.

As a general whole, it appears that the VVIQ tests were designed by individuals of whom themselves only make use of one mental focus, and thus the individuals then assumed that their method of mental focus can be the one and only method of imagination. The VVIQ tests can only have one possible predetermined outcome because the VVIQ tests disallow any behavior that does not agree with the VVIQ's design.


Though the VVIQ may have been intentionally designed to only measure one thing ('seeing mental photograph-like imagery'), the result is that without the VVIQ tests having descriptions of what the one thing is, the public often misinterprets what the VVIQ tests measure.

In many ways the VVIQ tests are similar to common IQ tests: the reader is given four or five multiple choice answers to each question, and the skilled reader must ignore that all of the answers are wrong; the reader relies upon choosing the answer that best fits what the test designer wanted the answer to be.

Without precisely described descriptions, some individuals could be classified as hyperphantasia and aphantasia simultaneously. All theories contain undescribed terms. The VVIQ is not an exception.

Related articles are on the HHAP Home Page.