Stable individual differences in strategies within, but not between, visual search tasks

A D F Clarke* (Corresponding Author), J. L. Irons, W James, A B Leber, A R Hunt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


A striking range of individual differences has recently been reported in three different visual search tasks. These differences in performance can be attributed to strategy, that is, the efficiency with which participants control their search to complete the task quickly and accurately. Here, we ask whether an individual's strategy and performance in one search task is correlated with how they perform in the other two. We tested 64 observers and found that even though the test-retest reliability of the tasks was high, an observer's performance and strategy in one task was not predictive of their behaviour in the other two. These results suggest search strategies are stable over time, but context-specific. To understand visual search, we therefore need to account not only for differences between individuals but also how individuals interact with the search task and context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages8
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Visual search
  • individual differences
  • optimal behaviour
  • eye movements


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