This article applies to:
Experiment Author: Susan Campbell. Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
This experiment contrasts detection of similar and dissimilar items in a rapidly changing display. Participants are asked to memorize a set of letters or numbers, then identify members of that set of letters or numbers when they are presented rapidly in a larger set of letters or numbers. It is considerably easier to recognize and respond to a number in a set of letters than it is to recognize a letter in a set of other letters.
In this experiment participants see a set of letters or numbers on slides and memorize a new set of target letters or numbers for each trial. A series of slides with 1-4 spots filled by letters or numbers appears in rapid succession. Slide duration varies between 40 and 200 milliseconds. When a target letter or number appears press the spacebar as a response. There are 36 trials in this experiment.
Schneider, W. and Shiffrin, R.M. (1977). Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention. Psychological Review, 84(1), 1-66.
Cited Experiment Abstract
A two-process theory of human information processing is proposed and applied to detection, search, and attention phenomena. Automatic processing is activation of a learned sequence of elements in long-term memory that is initiated by appropriate inputs and then proceeds automatically – without subject control, without stressing the capacity limitation of the system, and without necessarily demanding attention. Controlled processing is a temporary activation of a sequence of elements that can be set up quickly and easily but requires attention, is capacity-limited (usually serial in nature), and is controlled by the subject. A series of studies using both reaction time and accuracy measures is presented, which traces these concepts in the form of automatic detection and controlled search through the areas of detection, search, and attention. Results in these areas are shown to arise from common mechanisms. Automatic detection is shown to develop following consistent mapping of stimuli to responses over trials. Controlled search is utilized in varied-mapping paradigms, and in our studies, it takes the form of serial, terminating search. The approach resolves a number of apparent conflicts in the literature.
Works Cited by the Experiment
Atkinson, R.C., Holmgren, J.E., & Juola, J.F. Processing time as influenced by the number of elements in a visual display. Perception & Psychophysics, 1969, 6, 321-326.
Atkinson, R.C., & Juola, J.F. Factors influencing speed and accuracy of word recognition. In S. Kornblum (Ed.), Attention and performace IV. New York: Academic Press, 1973.
Atkinson, R.C., & Juola, J.F. Search and decision processes in recognition memory. In D.H. Krantz, R.C. Atkinson, R.D. Lucek, & P. Suppes (Eds.), Contemporary developments in mathematical psychology (Vol. 1). San Francisco: Freeman, 1974.
Atkinson, R.C., & Shiffrin, R.M. Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K.W. Spence & J.T. Spence (Eds.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 2). New York: Academic Press, 1968.
Briggs, G.E. On the predictor variable for choice reaction time. Memory & Cognition, 1974, 2, 575-580.
Briggs, G.E., & Johnsen, A.M. On the nature of central processes in choice reactions. Memory & Cognition, 1973, 1, 91-100.
Broadbent, D.E. Perception and communication. London: Pergamon, 1958.
Broadbent, D.E. Decision and stress. London: Academic Press, 1971.
Corballis, M.C. Access to memory: An analysis of recognition times. In P.M.A. Rabbit & S. Dornic (Eds.), Attention and performance V. New York: Academic Press, 1975.
Deutsch, J.A. & Deutsch, D. Attention: Some theoretical considerations. Psychological Reveiw, 1963, 70, 80-90.
Egeth, H., Atkinson, J., Gilmore, G.& Marcus, N. Factors affecting processing mode in visual search. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 13, 394-402.
Egeth, H., Jonides, J., & Wall, S. Parallel processing of multi-element displays. Cognitive Psychology, 1972, 3, 674-698.
Ellis, S.H., & Chase, W.G. Parallel processing in item recognition. Perception & Psychophysics, 1971, 10, 379-384.
Eriksen, C.W., & Spencer, T. Rate of information processing in visual perception: Some results and methodological considerations. Journal of Experimental Psychology Monograph, 1969, 79 (2, Part 2).
Estes, W.K. Interactions of signal and bacikground variables in visual processing. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 12, 278-286.
Estes, W.K., & Taylor, H.A. A detection method and probabilistic models for assessing information processing from brief visual displays. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1964, 52, 446-454.
Estes, W.K., & Taylor, H.A. Visual detection in relation to display size and redundancy of critical elements. Perception & Psychophysics, 1966, 1, 9-16.
Feller, W. An introduction to probability theory and its applications. New York: Wiley, 1957.
Gardner, G.T. Evidence for independent parallel channels in tachistoscopic perception. Cognitive Psychology, 1973, 4, 130-155.
Hick, W.E. On the rate of gain of information. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1952, 4, 11-26.
Ingling, N.W. Categorization: A mechanism for rapid information processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972, 94, 239-243.
Jonides, J., & Gleitman, H. A conceptual category effect in visual search: O as letter or as digit. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 12, 457-460.
Kristofferson, M.W. Effects of practice on chacter classification performance. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 1972, 26, 54-60. (a)
Kristofferson, M.W. When item recognition and visual search functions are similar. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 12, 379-384. (b)
Kristofferson, M.W. Types and frequency of errors in visual search. Perception & Psychophysics, 1972, 11, 325-328.
Kristofferson, M.W., Groen, M., & Kristofferson, A.B. When visual functions look like item recognition functions. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 14, 186-192.
LaBerge, D. Attention and the measurement of perceptual learning. Memory & Cognition, 1973, 1, 268-276.
Moray, N.A. A data base for theories of selective listening. In P.M.A. Rabbit & S. Dornic (Eds.), Attention and performance V. New York: Academic Press, 1975.
Neisser, U. Decision time without reaction time: Experiments in visual scanning. American Journal of Psychology, 1963, 76, 376-385.
Neisser, U. Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crafts, 1967.
Neisser, U. Practiced card sorting for multiple targets. Memory & Cognition, 1974, 2, 781-785.
Neisser, U., Novick, R., & Lazar, R. Searching for ten targets simultaneously. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1963, 17, 955-961.
Nickerson, R.S. Response times with a memory-dependent decision task. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1966, 72, 761-769.
Rabbit, P.M.A. Ignoring irrelevant information. British Journal of Psychology, 1964, 55, 403-414.
Rabbit, P.M.A. Learning to ignore irrelevant information. American Journal of Psychology, 1967, 80, 1-13.
Ross, J. Extended practice with a single character classification task. Perception & Psychophysics, 1970, 8, 276-278.
Schneider, W. Selective attention, memory scanning, and visual search: Three components of one process. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, 1975.
Shaffer, H., & Hardwick, J. Monitoring simultaneous auditory messages. Perception & Psychophysics, 1969, 6, 401-404.
Shiffrin, R.M. The locus and role of attention in memory systems. In P.M.A. Rabbit & S. Dornic (Eds.), Attention and performance V. New York: Academic Press, 1975.
Shiffrin, R.M. Capacity limitations in information processing, attention, and memory. In W.K. Estes (Ed.), Handbook of learning and cognitive processes (Vol. 4). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1976.
Shiffrin, R.M. & Gardner, G.T. Visual processing capacity and attentional control. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972, 93, 72-83.
Shifrin, R.M., & Geisler, W.S. Visual recognition in a theory of information processing. In R.L. Solso (Ed.), Contemporary issues in cognitive psychology: The Loyola Symposium. Washington, DC: Winston, 1973.
Shiffrin, R.M., & Schneider, W. Controlled and automatic human information processing: II. Perceptual learning, automatic attending, and a general theory. Psychological Review, in press.
Simpson, P.J. High-speed scanning: Stability and generality. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972, 96, 239-246.
Sorkin, R.D., & Pohlman, L.D. Some models of observer behavior in two-channel auditory signal detection. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 14, 101-109.
Sperling, G. The description and luminous calibration of cathode ray oscilloscope visual displays. Behavioral Research Methods and Instrumentation, 1971, 3, 148-151.
Sperling, G., Budiansky, J., Spivak, J.G., & Johnson, M.C. Extremely rapid visual search: The maximum rate of scanning letters for the presence of a numeral. Science, 1971, 175, 307-311.
Sternberg, S. High-speed scanning in human memory. Science, 1966, 153, 652-654.
Sternberg, S. Memory scanning: Mental processes revealed by reaction time experiments. American Scientist, 1969, 57, 421-457. (a)
Sternberg, S. The discovery of processing stages: Extensions of Donder's method. In W.G. Koster (Ed.), Attention and performance II. Amsterdam: North Holland, 1969. (b)
Sternberg, S. Memory scanning: New findings and current controversies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1975, 27, 1-32.
Swanson, J.M., & Briggs, G.E. Information processing as a function of speed versus accuracy. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1969, 81, 223-229.
Teichner, W.H., & Krebs, M.J. Visual search for simple targets. Psychological Bulletin, 1974, 81, 15-28.
Townsend, J.T. A note on the identifiability of parallel and serial processes. Perception & Psychophysics, 1971, 10, 161-163.
Townsend, J.T. Some results concerning the identifiability of parallel and serial processes. British Journal of Mathematical & Statistical Psychology, 1972, 25, 168-199.
Treisman, A.M. Contextual cues in selective listening. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1960, 12, 242-248.
Treisman, A.M. Verbal cues, language and meaning in selective attention. American Journal of Psychology, 1964, 77, 206-219.
Treisman, A.M. Strategies and models of selective attention. Psychological Review, 1969, 76, 282-299.
Treisman, A.M., & Riley, J.G.A. Is selective attention selective perception or selective response? A further test. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1969, 79, 27-34.
Yonas, A., & Pittenger, J. Searching for many targets: An analysis of speed and accuracy. Perception & Psychophysics, 1973, 13, 513-516.