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Who should be searching? differences in personality can affect visual search accuracy

Biggs, Adam T., Clark, Kait and Mitroff, Stephen R. 2017. Who should be searching? differences in personality can affect visual search accuracy. Personality and Individual Differences 116 , pp. 353-358. 10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.045

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Visual search is an everyday task conducted in a wide variety of contexts. Some searches are mundane, such as finding a beverage in the refrigerator, and some have life-or-death consequences, such as finding improvised explosives at a security checkpoint or within a combat zone. Prior work has shown numerous influences on search, including “bottom-up” (physical stimulus attributes) and “top-down” factors (task-relevant or goal-driven aspects). Recent work has begun to focus on “observer-specific” factors, examining how searchers' attributes might influence search performance. A logical extension involves exploring whether some individuals are better suited to conduct visual searches than other individuals. The current study examined whether certain personality characteristics relate to visual search performance in a large sample of professional searchers employed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Of the “big five” personality traits (neuroticism, extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness), only conscientiousness significantly correlated with visual search accuracy. Both early-career and experienced professional searchers demonstrated a significant relationship between conscientiousness scores and accuracy on a simple visual search task. These findings validate the notion that searchers' attributes impact their visual search performance and suggest that personality assessments might prove useful for hiring and selection decisions regarding professional tasks that incorporate visual search.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0191-8869
Date of Acceptance: 22 April 2017
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 03:09

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