Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Perception & Psychophysics 1985, 37, 557-567. Copyright © 1985 The Psychonomic Society. Used by permission.


Subjects visually searched for letter string targets consisting of either familiar English three-letter words (e.g., SEX) or featurally similar nonword trigrams (e.g., SFX). Distractor items were either words or nonwords and had varying degrees of feature overlap with the target among different blocks of trials. Search was facilitated by a word-nonword category distinction between target and distractors, particularly when target-noise feature overlap was high, but such facilitation consisted of slope reductions in an apparently serial, self-terminating search pattern as opposed to a "pop-out" effect.