Haptic pop-out in a hand sweep

M. A. Plaisier, W.M. Bergmann Tiest, A.M.L. Kappers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Visually, a red item is easily detected among green items, whereas a mirrored S among normal Ss is not. In visual search, the former is known as the pop-out effect. In daily life, people often also conduct haptic (tactual) searches, for instance, when trying to find keys in their pocket. The aim of the present research was to determine whether there is a haptic version of the pop-out effect. Blindfolded subjects had to search for a target item which differed in roughness from the surrounding distractor items. We report reaction time slopes as low as 20 ms/item. When target and distractor identities were interchanged the slopes increased indicating a search asymmetry. Furthermore, we show that differences in search slope were accompanied by search strategy differences. In some conditions a single-hand sweep over the display was sufficient, while in others a more detailed search strategy was used. By relating haptic search slopes to parallel and serial search strategies we show, for the first time, that pop-out effects occur under free manual exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-377
JournalActa psychologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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