Exploring Metacognitive Accuracy in Visual Search

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For decades, researchers have examined visual search. Much of this work has focused on the factors (e.g., movement, set size, luminance, distractor features and proximity) that influence search speed. However, no research has explored whether people are aware of the influence of these factors. For instance, increases in set size will typically slow down target detection; yet no research has measured participants’ metacognitive awareness of this phenomenon. The present research explores this area by integrating a visual search task with a metacognitive monitoring paradigm. All of the explored factors influenced search latency. However, all of the factors except target presence influenced ratings. Saliency and suppression are discussed as two possible explanations for the results. Future directions for extending the theory and the practical benefits of this research are also outlined.