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Diederick Niehorster, Tim Cornelissen, Ignace Hooge, Kenneth Holmqvist; Searching with and against each other. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):222. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.222.
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Although in real life people frequently perform visual search together, in lab experiments this social dimension is typically left out. Collaborative search with feedback about partners' gaze has been shown to be highly efficient (Brennan et al. 2008). Here we aim to replicate previous findings regarding collaborative search strategies and how they change when people compete instead. Participants were instructed to search a jittered hexagonal grid of Gabors for a target with a vertical orientation, among 24 distractors rotated -10 or 10° while being eye-tracked. Sixteen participants completed three conditions: individual, collaborative and competitive search. For collaboration and competition, searchers were paired with another searcher and shown in real-time at which element the other searcher was looking. Searchers were instructed to find the target as fast as possible and received points or a penalty depending on whether they found the correct target. When instructed to collaborate, both searchers received points or a penalty, regardless who responded. During competition, only the searcher who responded was rewarded points or penalized. Early in trials the overlap in visited hexagons between searchers remained low, indicating that searchers formed a collaboration strategy. This strategy resulted in search times that were roughly half that of individual search without an increase in errors, indicating collaboration was efficient. During competition overlap increased earlier, indicating that competing searchers divided the search space less efficiently than collaborating searchers. During competition, participants increased the rate at which they inspected the elements of the display and, despite no longer dividing the search space as efficiently as during collaboration, found targets faster than in the collaboration condition without an increase in errors. We conclude that participants can efficiently search together when provided only with information about their partner's gaze position. Competing searchers found the target even faster, but without a clear strategy.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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