The Impact of Meaningful Targets in a Visual Search Task
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Sometimes, people can learn things from their environment even though they are not aware of it. This unconscious learning is referred to as implicit learning. The purpose of this study is to help better understand the role of implicit learning when looking for visual targets in a familiar context (i.e., looking for words in a word search puzzle). Chun and Jiang (1998) discovered that people will unconsciously learn the locations of targets that appear in repeated locations. However, the targets used in their study were meaningless. This study will examine whether people will implicitly learn meaningful targets (e.g., words) differently than meaningless targets (e.g., non-words). We want to know whether our novel word search puzzle will demonstrate an implicit memory effect. Each participant in this investigation received 30 word search puzzles. The word search puzzles contained repeated patterns of where the words were located. Depending on the condition the participant was randomly assigned to, they would have either received 2 different spatial configurations along with several random patterns, or 4 different spatial configurations along with several random patterns. Participant’s completion time for each puzzle was measured. If the participant learned the repeated spatial configurations, then they should have become faster on these puzzles compared to the random configuration puzzles. If the participant didn’t notice the repeated spatial configurations and yet the completion times for these puzzles still decreased (i.e., became faster), then it will be concluded that the participant implicitly learned some of the spatial configurations.