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Alexis Lopez, Garrett Bennett, Arryn Robbins, Hayward Godwin, Michael Hout; Find one fast, or find them all slow: Do collaborative visual searchers search more quickly or more thoroughly?. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1001. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1001.
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A number of real-world scenarios involve pairs or teams of individuals searching collaboratively for complex targets. In an attempt to examine these types of scenarios, our recent research has demonstrated that, relative to a solo searcher, collaborative searchers exhibit higher response accuracy when engaged in complex visual search tasks. In the present studies, we sought to further mimic the challenges faced by real-world searchers and to better understand collaborative search behavior. In Experiment 1, participants searched for a single target as quickly as possible; in Experiment 2, speed was not emphasized, and participants were told to make sure to find every target that was present. Participants memorized 24 target categories, and were assigned to one of four conditions: a solo search condition; a collaborative group (two searchers working together); a split memory strategy group (where each searcher focused on half the memory set); and a split screen strategy group (where each searcher focused on half of the screen). During search, observers saw arrays of 32 images with between 0-3 targets present on each trial. Participants clicked on target items or a "stop sign" to indicate that their search was concluded (in Experiment 1, trials ended after a single click). In Experiment 1, we found that collaborative search teams made fewer false-alarms and more hits, but RTs were unaffected (and there was no effect of collaborative strategies). In Experiment 2, we found that collaborative searchers made more hits, but were not demonstrably better with respect to false-alarms or RT (and again no effects of search strategy). Our findings suggest that working in a team elicits selective benefits to behavior; team searchers tend to be more accurate but not faster searchers, and commit false-alarms less frequently when under time pressure. Our ongoing research is exploring further the effectiveness of collaborative search strategies.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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