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Charlotte Riggs, Katherine Cornes, Hayward Godwin, Richard Guest, Nick Donnelly; The Importance of Slow Consistent Movement when Searching for Hard-to-Find Targets in Real-World Visual Search. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1355. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1355.
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Various real-world tasks require careful and exhaustive visual search. For example, searching for forensic evidence or signs of hidden threats (what we call hard-to-find targets). Here, we examine how search accuracy for hard-to-find targets is influenced by search behaviour. Participants searched for coins set amongst a 5m x 15m (defined as x and y axes respectively) piece of grassland. The grassland contained natural distractors of leaves and flowers and was not manicured. Coins were visually detectable from standing height. There was no time limit to the task and participants were instructed to search until they were confident they had completed their search. On average, participants detected 45% (SD=23%) of the targets and took 7:23 (SD=4:44) minutes to complete their search. Participants’ movement over space and time was recorded as a series of time-stamped x, y coordinates using a Total Station theodolite. To quantify their search behaviour, the x- and y-coordinates of participants’ physical locations as they searched the grassland were converted into the frequency domain using a Fourier transform. Decreases in dominant frequencies, a measure of the time before turning during search, resulted in increased response accuracy as well as increased search times. Furthermore, decreases in the number of iterations, defined by the total search time divided by the dominant frequency, also resulted in increased accuracy and search times. Comparing distance between the two most dominant frequency peaks provided a measure of consistency of movement over time. This measure showed that more variable search was associated with slower search times but no improvement in accuracy. Throughout our analyses, these results were true for the y-axis but not the x-axis. At least with respect to the present task, accurate search for hard-to-find targets is dependent on conducting search at a slow consistent speed where changes in direction are minimised.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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