Target search: Variability of color




Sifuentes, Mark Richard

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In a target search task, 19 participants discriminated a target as friend or foe on the basis of shape, color, or both color and shape. Targets were present with 1, 3, 7, or 15 blue distractors in front of a yellow background. Within-category variability of the target colors was critical to observing the role of shape when color judgments are made harder, as well as testing the dominance of color processing over shape processing found in previous studies (Dykes, 2007; Sifuentes, 2010). When target colors varied, they varied on three points: prototypical green (signaling "friend") or red (signaling "foe") colors, or two near-prototypical green (again signaling "friend") or red (again signaling "foe") colors that were similar to the prototypical colors but approached the direction of either the background or disctractor color in the u'v' color space. Consistent with the previous studies, analyses of median RT revealed that performance was slower as the number of distractors increased, and performance was better with prototypical colored targets than with near-prototypical variants. Still, further analyses revealed that judgments with both prototypical color and near-prototypical color targets yielded better performance than judgments based on shape alone. Although the variability of color targets did not effectively diminish the dominance of color processing over shape, Redundancy Gain was observed with large display sizes, suggesting that redundant shape information may provide a benefit by protecting discriminations against the effect of distractors.


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color, prototypical color, Redundancy Gain, shape, target search, variability