Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Gary Burns (Committee Member), Paul Havig (Committee Member), Allen Nagy (Advisor), Allen Nagy (Committee Chair)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This study tested the hypothesis that the similarity of the cue and target in a visual search task is related to performance. Specifically, it was hypothesized that as the similarity between the cue and the target along the dimensions of stimulus contrast, spatial resolution and size increases, the amount of time that it takes to find a target among distractors decreases. Three experiments were performed to investigate the question. Experiments 1 and 2 employed a methodology that employed homogeneous search arrays where the contrast, spatial resolution and size of the elements were constant (high contrast, high spatial resolution and large size) and resulted in two small, statistically significant size effects. Experiment 3 was designed with heterogeneous search arrays for the task. This redesign produced larger performance differences that supported the similarity hypothesis. Differences in size produced the largest performance shifts, followed by differences in spatial resolution and differences in contrast producing smaller effects.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded