Goal oriented search in contextual cueing

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University of Alabama Libraries

Much research has shown contextual cueing effects in which target location reaction times were faster due to the implicit learning of repeated predictable displays. The current research seeks to employ this traditional method of search by using goal-directed top-down strategies to locate two separate targets predicted by the same distractor layouts to produce contextual cueing in passive search, testing the flexibility of implicit learning in contextual cueing. There were two groups of 30 participants in the study recruited from the University of Alabama psychology 101 subject pool. One group searched for two targets in two different contexts while the second group searched for two targets in the same context in two independent learning phases. During the test phase both the learned predictable displays and novel, unpredictable displays were presented. Response times for the predictable displays were compared to the response times for the unpredictable displays for each group, determining the degree of contextual cueing. Response times were faster for the predictable displays during the test phase compared to the unpredictable displays, a result of contextual cueing. There was a large main effect of predictability for the target T F (1, 58) =183.96, p<.000, with a partial eta squared of .760 and a large main effect of predictability for target L F (1, 57) =32.350, p<.000 with a partial eta squared of .362. These results suggest that it is possible for contextual cueing to be sensitive to current goals.

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