The graphical forms, visual-verbal resonances, meanings and semiosis of the Red Cross symbols
We investigated the semiosis of pictorial, schematic, and abstract symbols using current and proposed emblems for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Cross-cultural symbol-referent ratings of correspondence suggested the symbols could all be considered icons and indexes of the referents. Mean comprehensibility estimation scores differed significantly between familiar and unfamiliar symbols. Pictorial graphical form and symbol familiarity did not appear to constrain interpretations in the open-ended comprehension test. Thus at the referent denotation level, the symbols appeared to be simultaneously iconic and indexical, and at the symbol interpretation level, they appeared to be simultaneously iconic and symbolic. The findings suggest that symbol semiosis, rather than graphical form, is a more practical method for deciding the type of symbol one would use to communicate specific types of messages.