Emphasizing responder speed or accuracy modulates but does not abolish the distractor-induced quitting effect in visual search

Rebecca K. Lawrence, B. A. Cochrane, A. Eidels, Z. Howard, L. Lui, J. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

When a highly salient distractor is present in a search array, it speeds target absent visual search and increases errors during target present visual search, suggesting lowered quitting thresholds (Moher in Psychol Sci 31(1):31–42, 2020). Missing a critical target in the presence of a highly salient distractor can have dire consequences in real-world search tasks where accurate target detection is crucial, such as baggage screening. As such, the current study examined whether emphasizing either accuracy or speed would eliminate the distractor-generated quitting threshold effect (QTE). Three blocks of a target detection search task which included a highly salient distractor on half of all trials were used. In one block, participants received no instructions or feedback regarding performance. In the remaining two blocks, they received instructions and trial-by-trial feedback that either emphasized response speed or response accuracy. Overall, the distractor lowered quitting thresholds, regardless of whether response speed or response accuracy was emphasized in a block of trials. However, the effect of the distractor on target misses was smaller when accuracy was emphasized. It, therefore, appears that while the distractor QTE is not easily eradicated by explicit instructions and feedback, it can be shifted. As such, future research should examine the applicability of these and similar strategies in real-world search scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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