Where Did I Put Those Keys? – The Psychology of Foraging


Psychologists have been studying visual search in the lab for decades, in order to understand how we might have developed real-world ‘foraging’ behaviour. But just how similar are the two?

Pete Etchells is a biological psychologist. He blogs for Head Quarters, part of the science blog network.

This article has been re-shared from it’s original source, The Guardian

One of the big questions in vision research over the past 40 years has asked how we effectively search around our visual environment. Search is something that we unwittingly engage in every day of our lives – whether it’s looking for our car keys, scrabbling around for a lost contact lens, or rummaging around in a bag for a lost pen lid. But the way in which researchers have classically tested the limits of visual search have looked very different to what we might think of as search in the real world.

Try it yourself

In a typical lab setting, participants might be presented with an image like the one below, and asked to find the target T in and among a number of distractor Ls: