Determinants of dwell time in visual search: Similarity or perceptual difficulty?

Becker, Stefanie I. (2011) Determinants of dwell time in visual search: Similarity or perceptual difficulty?. PLoS One, 6 3: 1-5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017740

Author Becker, Stefanie I.
Title Determinants of dwell time in visual search: Similarity or perceptual difficulty?
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2011-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0017740
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Issue 3
Start page 1
End page 5
Total pages 5
Place of publication San Francisco CA , United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract The present study examined the factors that determine the dwell times in a visual search task, that is, the duration the gaze remains fixated on an object. It has been suggested that an item’s similarity to the search target should be an important determiner of dwell times, because dwell times are taken to reflect the time needed to reject the item as a distractor, and such discriminations are supposed to be harder the more similar an item is to the search target. In line with this similarity view, a previous study shows that, in search for a target ring of thin line-width, dwell times on thin linewidth Landolt C’s distractors were longer than dwell times on Landolt C’s with thick or medium linewidth. However, dwell times may have been longer on thin Landolt C’s because the thin line-width made it harder to detect whether the stimuli had a gap or not. Thus, it is an open question whether dwell times on thin line-width distractors were longer because they were similar to the target or because the perceptual decision was more difficult. The present study de-coupled similarity from perceptual difficulty, by measuring dwell times on thin, medium and thick line-width distractors when the target had thin, medium or thick line-width. The results showed that dwell times were longer on target-similar than target-dissimilar stimuli across all target conditions and regardless of the line-width. It is concluded that prior findings of longer dwell times on thin linewidth-distractors can clearly be attributed to target similarity. As will be discussed towards the end, the finding of similarity effects on dwell times has important implications for current theories of visual search and eye movement control.
Keyword Eye-movement control
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 17 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 18 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 27 Mar 2011, 00:02:43 EST