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ERIC Number: EJ989900
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 26
ISSN: ISSN-1076-898X
Search for Two Categories of Target Produces Fewer Fixations to Target-Color Items
Menneer, Tamaryn; Stroud, Michael J.; Cave, Kyle R.; Li, Xingshan; Godwin, Hayward J.; Liversedge, Simon P.; Donnelly, Nick
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, v18 n4 p404-418 Dec 2012
Searching simultaneously for metal threats (guns and knives) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in X-ray images is less effective than 2 independent single-target searches, 1 for metal threats and 1 for IEDs. The goals of this study were to (a) replicate this dual-target cost for categorical targets and to determine whether the cost remains when X-ray images overlap, (b) determine the role of attentional guidance in this dual-target cost by measuring eye movements, and (c) determine the effect of practice on guidance. Untrained participants conducted 5,376 trials of visual search of X-ray images, each specializing in single-target search for metal threats, single-target search for IEDs, or dual-target search for both. In dual-target search, only 1 target (metal threat or IED) at most appeared on any 1 trial. Eye movements, response time, and accuracy were compared across single-target and dual-target searches. Results showed a dual-target cost in response time, accuracy, and guidance, with fewer fixations to target-color objects and disproportionately more to non-target-color objects, compared with single-target search. Such reduction in guidance explains why targets are missed in dual-target search, which was particularly noticeable when objects overlapped. After extensive practice, accuracy, response time, and guidance remained better in single-target search than in dual-target search. The results indicate that, when 2 different target representations are required for search, both representations cannot be maintained as accurately as in separate single-target searches. They suggest that baggage X-ray security screeners should specialize in one type of threat, or be trained to conduct 2 independent searches, 1 for each threat item. (Contains 9 figures, 2 tables and 1 footnote.)
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: Massachusetts; United Kingdom (Southampton)