Individual differences in search and monitoring for color targets in dynamic visual displays

Muhl-Richardson, Alexander, Godwin, Hayward J., Garner, Matthew, Hadwin, Julie A., Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 and Donnelly, Nicholas (2018) Individual differences in search and monitoring for color targets in dynamic visual displays. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied . ISSN 1076-898X

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Many jobs now involve the monitoring visual representations of data that change over time. Monitoring dynamically changing displays for the onset of targets can be done in two ways: detecting targets directly post their onset or predicting their onset from the prior state of distractors. In the present study, participants? eye movements were measured as they monitored arrays of 108 colored squares whose colors changed systematically over time. Across three experiments, the data show that participants detected the onset of targets both directly and predictively. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that predictive detection was only possible when supported by sequential color changes that followed a scale ordered in color space. Experiment 3 included measures of individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) and anxious affect and a manipulation of target prevalence in the search task. It found that predictive monitoring for targets, and decisions about target onsets, were influenced by interactions between individual differences in verbal and spatial WMC and intolerance of uncertainty, a characteristic that reflects worry about uncertain future events. The results have implications for the selection of individuals tasked with monitoring dynamic visual displays for target onsets.

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