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Walking, talking and looking: effects of divided attention on gaze behaviour and visual search performance in a real-world environment

Wincenciak, Joanna; Egan, Christopher D; Willis, Alexandra

Authors

Joanna Wincenciak

Christopher D Egan

Alexandra Willis



Abstract

Visually-guided behaviour in the laboratory may not always reflect that in larger-scale environments, using more realistic tasks. (eg Smith et al, 2008 Cogn Process 9 121-126). Here, we explored (1) what people look at; (2) how quickly they find a target; and (3) whether divided attention (counting backwards in 7 s from 100) influences performance in a large-scale, active, visual search task in a real-world environment. Fourteen young adults (19–25 years) were asked to locate a target (white postcard) in a shop window as they walked along a pavement in Edinburgh, UK, under both ‘control’ and ‘divided attention’ conditions. Eye movements were recorded using a head-mounted eye tracker and coded manually according to object-based (‘what’) and location-based (‘where’) categories. Measurements were made from the point of first fixation on the correct shop display. Participants fixated significantly less often on task-relevant objects, and took significantly longer to find the target in the ‘divided attention’ condition compared with the control. No differences were found in terms of location-based (‘where’) categories. This suggests that real-world visual search performance in large-scale environments requires the activity of limited capacity, central attentional resources, but that visual scanning strategies (‘where’ we look) may not.

Citation

Wincenciak, J., Egan, C. D., & Willis, A. (2010). Walking, talking and looking: effects of divided attention on gaze behaviour and visual search performance in a real-world environment. Perception, 39, 35

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2010
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2012
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2012
Print ISSN 0301-0066
Electronic ISSN 1468-4233
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Pages 35
Keywords eye-movements; visual search; real-world; attention; working memory
Public URL http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/id/eprint/5475

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