The negative influence of mindwandering on visual search behaviour

Bower, C and Thompson, C ORCID: 2014, The negative influence of mindwandering on visual search behaviour , in: British Psychological Society Cognitive Section Meeting, 3-5 September 2014, Nottingham, UK. (Unpublished)

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The effective allocation of attention and visual search is critical in many real-world tasks and there are several factors that influence the distribution of resources. These range from positive influences (e.g. top-down search that is guided on the basis of task experience) to more negative influences (e.g. bottom-up capture due to irrelevant stimuli). Mindwandering, also known as daydreaming, or engaging in task-unrelated thoughts, falls into the second category; utilising valuable resources that would otherwise be devoted to task-relevant information. Findings show that mindwandering narrows visual search and affects task performance. The current study investigated how the complexity of the visual environment interacts with mindwandering, to determine the circumstances in which daydreaming is most deleterious. Participants were asked to make a judgement to 120 real-world scenes that were each presented for five seconds and eye movements were recorded. The complexity of the scenes was manipulated and at regular intervals participants were asked to state the extent to which they had just been mindwandering. When mindwandering was reported participants made fewer fixations and horizontal and vertical spread of search was reduced, compared to when they were allocating attention fully. This was particularly evident in the more complex, cluttered scenes. The results support previous findings that show a negative effect of mindwandering on visual search and further indicate that the consequences of mindwandering may be more severe in demanding environments.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences
Refereed: No
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Catherine Thompson
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2015 14:21
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 23:18

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