NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ884838
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 56
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
The Role of Target-Distractor Relationships in Guiding Attention and the Eyes in Visual Search
Becker, Stefanie I.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v139 n2 p247-265 May 2010
Current models of visual search assume that visual attention can be guided by tuning attention toward specific feature values (e.g., particular size, color) or by inhibiting the features of the irrelevant nontargets. The present study demonstrates that attention and eye movements can also be guided by a relational specification of how the target differs from the irrelevant distractors (e.g., larger, redder, darker). Guidance by the relational properties of the target governed intertrial priming effects and capture by irrelevant distractors. First, intertrial switch costs occurred only upon reversals of the coarse relationship between target and nontargets, but they did not occur when the target and nontarget features changed such that the relation remained the same. Second, irrelevant distractors captured most strongly when they differed in the correct direction from all other items--despite the fact that they were less similar to the target. This suggests that priming and contingent capture, which have previously been regarded as prime evidence for feature-based selection, are really due to a relational selection mechanism. Here I propose a new relational vector account of guidance, which holds promise to synthesize a wide range of different findings that have previously been attributed to different mechanisms of visual search. (Contains 8 figures, 1 table, and 6 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany