August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Does an auditory distractor allow humans to behave more randomly?
Author Affiliations
  • Yoshiaki Tsushima
    Psychology, Harvard University
  • Ken Nakayama
    Psychology, Harvard University
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 1028. doi:
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      Yoshiaki Tsushima, Ken Nakayama; Does an auditory distractor allow humans to behave more randomly?. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1028.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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It is well known that human beings are poor random generators (Wagenaar, 1972). For example, people have difficulty in creating random number sequences. What underlies this behavioral tendency? In order to examine this, we investigate the kinds of environments that can alter this ability to generate randomness. Subjects selected and mouse-clicked three different buttons in the designated field on the computer display (there are 4X4 square buttons). In each trial, subjects were asked to make the three button combination that they have never created before, that is, “a new combination”. One subject group did the task while listening to the radio, another group without listening to the radio. The degree of randomness was assessed quantitatively. We find that the averaged level of randomness of the subjects group listening to the radio is significantly higher than the group without the radio. Although the achievement of the group with radio was still worse than the pseudo-random combinations generated by a computer, the auditory distractor led to more random combinations. The present results are in accord with previous findings that show that people are poor random generators. At the same time, it suggests that reducing a subject's concentration on the task enhances the ability to generate randomness or attenuates suppression of more stereotyped behavior. However, to understand the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, further psychophysical and physiological experiments are required.

Tsushima, Y. Nakayama, K. (2010). Does an auditory distractor allow humans to behave more randomly? [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):1028, 1028a,, doi:10.1167/10.7.1028. [CrossRef]
 JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow for Research Abroad.

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