Targets Need Their Own Personal Space: Effects of Clutter on Multiple-Target Search Accuracy.


Journal Article

Visual search is an essential task for many lifesaving professions; airport security personnel search baggage X-ray images for dangerous items and radiologists examine radiographs for tumors. Accuracy is critical for such searches; however, there are potentially negative influences that can affect performance; for example, the displays can be cluttered and can contain multiple targets. Previous research has demonstrated that clutter can hurt search performance and a second target is less likely to be detected in a multiple-target search after a first target has been found, which raises a concern-how does clutter affect multiple-target search performance? The current study explored clutter in a multiple-target search paradigm, where there could be one or two targets present, and targets appeared in varying levels of clutter. There was a significant interaction between clutter and target number: Increasing levels of clutter did not affect single-target detection but did reduce detection of a second target. Multiple-target search accuracy is known to be sensitive to contextual influences, and the current results reveal a specific effect wherein clutter disproportionally affected multiple-target search accuracy. These results suggest that the detection and processing of a first target might enhance the masking effects of clutter around a second target.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Adamo, SH; Cain, MS; Mitroff, SR

Published Date

  • January 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1203 - 1214

PubMed ID

  • 26562889

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26562889

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-4233

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0301-0066

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0301006615594921


  • eng