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In everyday life we are frequently faced with the task of finding a certain object among many other irrelevant objects (e.g. a friend in a crowd).  The strategy underlying this visual search has been a topic of interest in psychology for many years.

Typically, visual search is examined by measuring the time it takes to find a designed target (i.e. reaction times). It is also common to average reaction times from many such searches.

However, this paper, co-authored by Yi-Shin Lin, Dietmar Heinke and Glyn W. Humphreys, demonstrates that it is possible to gain more insight into visual search by looking instead at the distribution of reaction times (i.e. how frequently certain values occur).

View the full paper