Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Do People "Pop Out"?

Lookup NU author(s): Katja Mayer, Dr Quoc Vuong



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The human body is a highly familiar and socially very important object. Does this mean that the human body has a special status with respect to visual attention? In the current paper we tested whether people in natural scenes attract attention and "pop out" or, alternatively, are at least searched for more efficiently than targets of another category (machines). Observers in our study searched a visual array for dynamic or static scenes containing humans amidst scenes containing machines and vice versa. The arrays consisted of 2, 4, 6 or 8 scenes arranged in a circular array, with targets being present or absent. Search times increased with set size for dynamic and static human and machine targets, arguing against pop out. However, search for human targets was more efficient than for machine targets as indicated by shallower search slopes for human targets. Eye tracking further revealed that observers made more first fixations to human than to machine targets and that their on-target fixation durations were shorter for human compared to machine targets. In summary, our results suggest that searching for people in natural scenes is more efficient than searching for other categories even though people do not pop out.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mayer KM, Vuong QC, Thornton IM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2015

Volume: 10

Issue: 10

Online publication date: 06/10/2015

Acceptance date: 14/09/2015

Date deposited: 31/03/2016

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139618


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric