Out of sight, out of mind: Matching bias underlies confirmatory visual search

Jason Rajsic, Eric Taylor, Jay Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Confirmation bias has recently been reported in visual search, where observers who were given a perceptual rule to test (e.g. “Is the p on a red circle?”) search stimuli that could confirm the rule stimuli preferentially (Rajsic, Wilson, & Pratt, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(5), 1353–1364, 2015). In this study, we compared the ability of concrete and abstract visual templates to guide attention using the visual confirmation bias. Experiment 1 showed that confirmatory search tendencies do not result from simple low-level priming, as they occurred when color templates were verbally communicated. Experiment 2 showed that confirmation bias did not occur when targets needed to be reported as possessing or not possessing the absence of a feature (i.e., reporting whether a target was on a nonred circle). Experiment 3 showed that confirmatory search also did not occur when search prompts referred to a set of visually heterogenous features (i.e., reporting whether a target on a colorful circle, regardless of the color). Together, these results show that the confirmation bias likely results from a matching heuristic, such that visual codes involved in representing the search goal prioritize stimuli possessing these features.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-507
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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