Satisfaction of Search Can Be Ameliorated by Perceptual Learning: A Proof-of-Principle Study

Erin Park, Fallon Branch, Jay Hegdé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When searching a visual image that contains multiple target objects of interest, human subjects often show a satisfaction of search (SOS) effect, whereby if the subjects find one target, they are less likely to find additional targets in the image. Reducing SOS or, equivalently, subsequent search miss (SSM), is of great significance in many real-world situations where it is of paramount importance to find all targets in a given image, not just one. However, studies have shown that even highly trained and experienced subjects, such as expert radiologists, are subject to SOS. Here, using the detection of camouflaged objects (or camouflage-breaking) as an illustrative case, we demonstrate that when naïve subjects are trained to detect camouflaged objects more effectively, it has the side effect of reducing subjects’ SOS. We tested subjects in the SOS task before and after they were trained in camouflage-breaking. During SOS testing, subjects viewed naturalistic scenes that contained zero, one, or two targets, depending on the image. As expected, before camouflage-training, subjects showed a strong SOS effect, whereby if they had found a target with relatively high visual saliency in a given image, they were less likely to have also found a lower-saliency target when one existed in the image. Subjects were then trained in the camouflage-breaking task to criterion using non-SOS images, i.e., camouflage images that contained zero or one target. Surprisingly, the trained subjects no longer showed significant levels of SOS. This reduction was specific to the particular background texture in which the subjects received camouflage training; subjects continued to show significant SOS when tested using a different background texture in which they did not receive camouflage training. A separate experiment showed that the reduction in SOS was not attributable to non-specific exposure or practice effects. Together, our results demonstrate that perceptual expertise can, in principle, reduce SOS, even when the perceptual training does not specifically target SOS reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number49
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • airport baggage screening
  • camouflage-breaking
  • deep learning
  • game hunting
  • military reconnaissance
  • pathology
  • pattern recognition expertise
  • radiology
  • segmentation
  • subsequent search miss (SSM)
  • visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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