Document Type



Jeff Moher

Publication Date



This paper is restricted to users on the Connecticut College campus until May 18, 2024.


The present study provides an insightful look into the effects of distractors using behavioral and eye-tracking measures. In this study, two eye-tracking experiments utilizing a feature search task were conducted to investigate the distractor-induced early quitting effect with a target prevalence of 50% rather than the 100% target prevalence typical of attentional capture studies. In Experiment 1, two independent variables of target (present/absent) and distractor (target/present) were examined with behavioral measures (accuracy and response time) as well as eye-tracking methods (total fixations, total fixation durations, and total distractor saccade percentages). Distractors were categorized as salient due to their red color, larger size, and delayed onset of 100 milliseconds after the presentation of other stimuli. In Experiment 2, all methodology was replicated with the exception that the salient item was occasionally the target. Experiment 1 demonstrated a robust replication of the distractor-induced early quitting effect on measures of accuracy and response time. Participants also fixated on fewer objects in the visual search task on distractor-present when they were most susceptible to distractor-induced early quitting. Additionally, participants tended to avoid making a saccade to the distractor on distractor-present trials. Experiment 2 demonstrated replication of data on participants’ accuracy, response time on target-present trials, and total fixations on target-present trials. Additionally, participants reported the opposite effect on total distractor saccade percentage, as participants had higher percentages of saccades to the distractor on distractor-present trials. However, other measures were not replicated.



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