September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Search Asymmetry Revisited: Search for Target with More Features than Distractors is Not Necessarily More Efficient
Author Affiliations
  • Chia-Chun Tsai
    National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Sung-En Chien
    National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Yoshiyuki Ueda
    Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Jun Saiki
    Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Su-Ling Yeh
    National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2581. doi:
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      Chia-Chun Tsai, Sung-En Chien, Yoshiyuki Ueda, Jun Saiki, Su-Ling Yeh; Search Asymmetry Revisited: Search for Target with More Features than Distractors is Not Necessarily More Efficient. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2581.

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

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Search asymmetry is a change in search efficiency when target and distractor switch roles. Previous studies found a shallower slope and faster reaction times in searching for a long line among short lines than vice versa, suggesting that searching for targets with more features than distractors leads to better efficiency. However, studies showing search asymmetry mostly recruited participants from western countries, yet one study with Japanese participants found no search asymmetry (Ueda et al., 2018). We examine whether search asymmetry can be found with Taiwanese participants, and whether culture-related factors and target-distractor discriminability affect the results. Four series of experiments were conducted. Taiwanese participants were asked to search for a long-line target among short lines or the reverse with set sizes 3, 6, and 12 (Experiment 1). No search asymmetry was found since there was no difference in the slope of searching for a longer-line target than for a shorter-line target. Moreover, search asymmetry was not found when the line-search task was preceded by Chinese or English digit-word search to prime specific language experiences (Experiment 2A and 2B), or the Navon task as a priming task to induce holistic or analytic processing (Experiment 3A and 3B) even with different target-distractor discriminability (Experiment 4, difference in line-length of 0.2, 0.4, and 0.6 deg). Taken together, search asymmetry was not observed in all four experiments, indicating that the absence of search asymmetry was robust in Taiwanese participants. Besides the high discriminability condition, searching for a long line among short lines was slower than vice versa in all the conducted experiments, which was novel from previous Westerners’ results. This study demonstrated the robustness of the lack of search asymmetry with Taiwanese participants, and provided an opportunity to consider the role of overall reaction time differences in visual search when search asymmetry is absent.


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