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    Search efficiency as a function of target saliency: the transition from inefficient to efficient search and beyond

    Liesefeld, H.R. and Moran, R. and Usher, Marius and Muller, Hermann J. and Zehetleitner, M. (2016) Search efficiency as a function of target saliency: the transition from inefficient to efficient search and beyond. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 42 (6), pp. 821-836. ISSN 0096-1523.

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    Searching for an object among distracting objects is a common daily task. These searches differ in efficiency. Some are so difficult that each object must be inspected in turn, whereas others are so easy that the target object directly catches the observer’s eye. In 4 experiments, the difficulty of searching for an orientation-defined target was parametrically manipulated between blocks of trials via the target–distractor orientation contrast. We observed a smooth transition from inefficient to efficient search with increasing orientation contrast. When contrast was high, search slopes were flat (indicating pop-out); when contrast was low, slopes were steep (indicating serial search). At the transition from inefficient to efficient search, search slopes were flat for target-present trials and steep for target-absent trials within the same orientation-contrast block—suggesting that participants adapted their behavior on target-absent trials to the most difficult, rather than the average, target-present trials of each block. Furthermore, even when search slopes were flat, indicative of pop-out, search continued to become faster with increasing contrast. These observations provide several new constraints for models of visual search and indicate that differences between search tasks that were traditionally considered qualitative in nature might actually be due to purely quantitative differences in target discriminability.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 201x. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Hermann Muller
    Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2016 13:22
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:25


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