Published: 19 April 2016 at 12:57
Anglia Ruskin psychologists show that visual scanning carries over between tasks
Psychologists have shown why checking devices such as sat-navs could have a negative effect on your driving.
The new research, to be published in the June edition of the journal Acta Psychologica, was carried out by psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University, Bournemouth University, the University of Salford and the University of Birmingham.
They conducted three separate experiments to measure how visual scanning behaviour in one task can carry over to a second unrelated task. During these experiments, participants performed a search task with strings of letters that were arranged horizontally, vertically, or randomly across the screen.
Immediately following this, they were presented with a road scene and were asked to memorise it (experiment 1), rate it for hazardousness (experiment 2), or respond to a hazard (experiment 3).
Even though the time spent completing the letter search was minimal, the “carry over” of eye-movements from the letter search to the road scene was observed in all experiments, and this influenced an individual’s attentional allocation.
The psychologists observed an increase in the amount of vertical scanning following the vertically orientated letter-search task and decreased vertical scanning following the horizontal letter search.
In the third experiment, responses to road hazards were made significantly quicker following letters presented horizontally compared to letters presented randomly or vertically.
Dr Michael Pake, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: