Finding a link between guided search and perceptual load theory

Adam T. Biggs, Ryan D. Kreager, Christopher C. Davoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Perceptual load theory claims that attentional processing of distractors in the visual environment is dependent upon the availability of perceptual resources, and recent research has attempted to link this selective attention theory to more classic ideas on visual search. In the present study, we investigated how perceptual load could be linked to a prominent visual search theory: guided search. Our findings suggest that any volitional attempt at attentional guidance only hindered attention under low perceptual load, whereas attentional guidance could be highly effective under high perceptual load. Importantly, guided search only proved effective when participants could utilise knowledge about the display consistently from trial-to-trial. This finding parallels previous evidence about visual search, extends it to perceptual load theory and further demonstrates the rich potential in uniting visual search and visual selection studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-179
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015


  • Guided search
  • Perceptual load
  • Selective attention
  • Visual attention


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