Marking Rejected Distractors: A Gaze-Contingent Technique For Measuring Memory During Search

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chris Dickinson Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: There is a debate among search theorists as to whether search exploits a memory for rejected distractors. We addressed this question by monitoring eye movements and explicitly marking objects visited by gaze during search. If search is memoryless, markers might be used to reduce distractor reinspections and improve search efficiency, relative to a no-marking baseline. However, if search already uses distractor memory, there should be no differences between marking and no-marking conditions. In four experiments, with stimuli ranging from Os and Qs to realistic scenes, two consistent data patterns emerged: (1) Marking rejected distractors produced no systematic benefit for search efficiency, as measured by reinspections, reaction times, or errors, and (2) distractor reinspection rates were, overall, extremely low. These results suggest that search uses a memory for rejected distractors, at least in those many real-world search tasks in which gaze is free to move.

Additional Information

Dickinson, C.A., Zelinsky, G.J. Marking rejected distractors: A gaze-contingent technique for measuring memory during search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 12, 1120–1126 (2005). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2005
Visual Search, Search Task, Visual Working Memory, Search Efficiency, Search Display

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