Marco Lauriola, Vito Tambasco, Angela Figliozzi, Caterina Laicardi

An assessment of Preschoolers' Visual Search Abilities: Exploratory Longitudinal Study of Children aged Three-to-Six Years

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Visual search is a classic experimental paradigm in general psychology, which has been receiving increasing attention in developmental and clinical neuropsychology during the last few years. In the present study, we administered a visual search task to 78 children aged 42 months, with two follow-ups at 55 and 70 months, respectively. Display size, inclusion of distractors similar to the target and target's eccentricity were manipulated within subjects. Analyses of both reaction times and proportion of correct searches indicated that the increasing display-size and the presence of distractors similar to the target made the search less efficient than predicted by the literature. No effect of target's eccentricity was detected as well as no meaningful interaction effect of design factors with participants' age. Since the overall performance in all experimental conditions increased with age, it is concluded that the visual search process at follow-ups is not qualitatively different from the baseline. Implications for individual assessment by visual search tasks are also discussed.

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