August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
The influence of Experience upon Threat Assessment and Visual Search in Complex Scenes
Author Affiliations
  • Hayward J. Godwin
    University of Southampton
  • Simon P. Liversedge
    University of Southampton
  • Julie A. Kirkby
    Bournemouth University
  • Katherine Cornes
    Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Michael Boardman
    Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Nick Donnelly
    University of Southampton
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 742. doi:
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      Hayward J. Godwin, Simon P. Liversedge, Julie A. Kirkby, Katherine Cornes, Michael Boardman, Nick Donnelly; The influence of Experience upon Threat Assessment and Visual Search in Complex Scenes. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):742. doi:

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

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Using scenes taken from the recent conflict in Afghanistan, we explored the search and eye movement behaviour of a group of military personnel as they assessed whether they believed that the scenes contained an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The threat assessment was based on an evaluation of Threat Indicators (TIs) during examination of each scene. There were two types of TIs: Physical TIs, which consisted of signals such as footprints or signs of digging indicating that an IED had been emplaced within the environment (by being dug into the ground); Psychological TIs, which consisted of areas in the scene that an enemy may be situated in preparation for an attack, or locations where an enemy may be situated in preparation to remotely detonate an IED. Our study had two goals. The first was to determine whether participants searched both Physical and Psychological TIs when reaching threat assessment decisions. The second was to determine if and how experience (in terms of searching for threat in live combat environments) modulates threat assessment search, both in terms of behavioural responses, and in eye movement behaviour. We found that both experienced and inexperienced participants examined the TIs in a similar manner, though inexperienced participants made more revisits to TIs, had longer response times, and showed evidence of a significant bias towards assessing the scenes as containing a threat. The results suggest that in tasks of this nature, the inexperienced participants were searching under the assumption that each scene would contain a threat, resulting in a significant bias in their responses.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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