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Walter R. Boot, Ensar Becic, Arthur F. Kramer; Stable individual differences in search strategy?: The effect of task demands and motivational factors on scanning strategy in visual search. Journal of Vision 2009;9(3):7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.3.7.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies have demonstrated large individual differences in scanning strategy during a dynamic visual search task (E. Becic, A. F. Kramer, & W. R. Boot, 2007; W. R. Boot, A. F. Kramer, E. Becic, D. A. Wiegmann, & T. Kubose, 2006). These differences accounted for substantial variance in performance. Participants who chose to search covertly (without eye movements) excelled, participants who searched overtly (with eye movements) performed poorly. The aim of the current study was to investigate the stability of scanning strategies across different visual search tasks in an attempt to explain why a large percentage of observers might engage in maladaptive strategies. Scanning strategy was assessed for a group of observers across a variety of search tasks without feedback (efficient search, inefficient search, change detection, dynamic search). While scanning strategy was partly determined by task demands, stable individual differences emerged. Participants who searched either overtly or covertly tended to adopt the same strategy regardless of the demands of the search task, even in tasks in which such a strategy was maladaptive. However, when participants were given explicit feedback about their performance during search and performance incentives, strategies across tasks diverged. Thus it appears that observers by default will favor a particular search strategy but can modify this strategy when it is clearly maladaptive to the task.
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