Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Shane T. Mueller

Committee Member 1

Kelly Steelman

Committee Member 2

Robert L. Pastel


Visual search has been extensively studied in the laboratory, yielding broad insights into how we search through and attend to the world around us. In order to know if these insights are valid, however, this research must not be confined to the sanitized imagery typically found within the lab. Comparatively little research has been conducted on visual search within naturalistic settings, and this gap must therefore be bridged in order to further our understanding of visual search. Based on the results of Experiment 1, Experiment 2 was conducted to test three common effects observed in previous studies of visual search: the effects of background complexity, target-background similarity, and target-distractor similarity on response time. Results show that these hypotheses carry over to the natural world, but also that there are other effects present not accounted for by current theories of visual search. The argument is made for the modification of these theories to incorporate this naturalistic information.

Included in

Psychology Commons