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Poster F38

Online vs. In-Person: Environment Familiarity Affects Experience-Based and Rule-Related Selective Attention Differently

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Nathaniel Allen1 (, Natalia Khodayari1, Aaron Patterson1, Adrian Li1, Howard Egeth1, Susan Courtney1; 1Johns Hopkins University

In the post-pandemic, Zoom-dominant world, online testing has become ubiquitous within psychological research, raising an important question: does online testing replicate in-person results? We analyzed previously collected data from a single-session online study (n = 66) and a separate in-person test-retest study with two sessions separated by 3-8 days (n = 69) that assessed individual differences in target enhancement and distractor suppression. The visual search task included a briefly presented array with a shape-singleton target. An additional color-singleton distractor appeared on some trials. Separate target and distractor learning blocks implicitly manipulated the frequent location of target or distractor, respectively. We found that individual differences in accuracy for the frequency effect (infrequent–frequent trials) were marginally correlated between the target and distractor learning blocks in Session 1 in-person but not correlated online or Session 2 in-person. Conversely, distractor presence effects (distractor present–absent trials) in reaction time were only marginally correlated between target and distractor blocks in Session 1 in-person while they were strongly correlated online and in Session 2 in-person. Together, these results suggest that 1) testing context can substantially influence attention effects and 2) environmental distinctions differentially affect experience-based versus rule-related selective attention. One such distinction is that the online and Session 2 in-person experiments could be considered having familiar environments, whereas the environment for Session 1 in-person may be more novel. These results emphasize the need to consider effects of online versus in-person testing environments—as well as participants’ familiarity with in-person environments—when interpreting individual differences in cognitive performance.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial


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April 13–16  |  2024