visual search

Quick Reference

An experimental task, the objective of which is to find a particular element in a visual display, as when all occurrences of the letter e have to be located and crossed out as quickly as possible in a page of text. A simple but striking demonstration of the fallibility of visual search can be carried out by printing the following sentence on a sheet of paper: FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE. Many people who are asked to count the occurrences of the letter F as quickly as possible find only four of them after completing the search to their own satisfaction, although F occurs seven times in the sentence. See also multiframe task, single-frame task.

Subjects: Psychology.

Reference entries