Demonstrating Failures of Attentional Guidance in Visual Search



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There are many differences across individuals in the strategies that people use while performing visual search tasks. Prior literature suggests that visual search is more efficient when performed using some search strategies than others, based on different experimental conditions. People sometimes also use suboptimal strategies (such as unguided search, etc.), while performing a search task. This present study uses data from multiple eye tracking experiments to explore the distinct decision-making strategies employed by humans while performing visual search tasks. This is primarily a multi-layered data analysis study that investigates a phenomenon called ‘Step Path’. ‘Step-paths’ occur when people fixate objects adjacent to one another in a unidirectional pattern. The goal of this analysis is to explore how probability of a fixation falling in a step-path changes over the course of a trial, in different experimental conditions. A step-path pattern suggests that eye movements are not being guided by target features during search, and so the step-path probability can reflect how guidance changes across different search conditions. Moreover, it would also enable us to explore experimental conditions that might nudge people towards using more efficient search strategies.



Psychology, Neuroscience, Visual Cognition, Attentional Guidance, Visual Search