Effects of cues on target search behavior

Assaf Botzer, Joachim Meyer, Avinoam Borowsky, Ido Gdalyahu, Yoav Ben Shalom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Cues in visual scanning task can improve decision accuracy, and they may also affect task performance strategies. We tested the effects of cues on the performance of binary classifications, on the screen scanning procedure participants employed, and on the reported effort in a simulated quality control task. Participants had to decide whether each item in a 5 × 5 matrix of items was intact or faulty. In half the experimental blocks decisions could only be based on the visual properties of the items. In the other half, participants also saw imperfect binary cues and could use them to classify the items as faulty or intact. We used eye tracking to study scan patterns and fixation durations on items. Decision performance improved with cues, and cues affected the scanning of items, with participants mainly scanning cued items and tending to scan them longer. Participants stated that cues reduced their effort when cues were highly valid. We conclude that strategic choices to focus on suspected areas determined the screen scanning procedure, the amount of effort invested in single decisions, and the accuracy of the decisions. We therefore suggest using likelihood ratio cues to help optimize the scanning procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Binary cues
  • Decision support
  • Mental effort
  • Random walk
  • Target detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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