Seventy-seven Mount Holyoke College students participated in mixed groups (2x2) study that examined the effects of an imageís familiarity on oneís ability to detect visual changes within images. Half of subjects were asked to detect the changes while engaged in conversation to additionally examine the effect that divided attention has on change blindness. An analysis of variance was run on the resulting change detection reaction times. Results show that participants are able to detect changes significantly more quickly in familiar images than they are able to detect changes in unfamiliar changes. Further examination of results led us to examine the difference between the two set of images used. Significantly different reaction times were found between the two sets of images. There was no main effect for the distraction variable, although it did not have a significant effect on the second picture set. Possible reasons for these results, and ideas for further study, are discussed.







A mixed groups design ANOVA was used to determine if the familiarity of a picture (familiar and unfamiliar) and the task (distraction or non-distraction) and picture set (Mona Lisa/Ginevra, Scream/Murderer) had significant effect in reaction time to changes within the images. There was a significant main effect for picture set, significantly slower reaction times occurred using the Scream/Murderer set (M = 9662.668), F (1,28) = 20.375, MSE = 10479116.469, p = .000.

There was also a significant main effect for familiarity, significantly faster reaction times occurred when using familiar images (M = 7204.037) than unfamiliar images (M = 9353.292), F (1,28) = 9.584, MSE = 13431743.687, p = .004.

A significant interaction occurred between task and picture set. When participants were exposed to a distraction, they took significantly longer to detect a change within the Scream/Murderer set (M = 12910.627) than within the Mona Lisa/Ginevra (M = 8612.377), F (1,28) = 6.227, p = .019. There were no other significant interactions.

Figure 1. Mean reaction times for familiar and unfamiliar images.

Figure 2. Mean reaction times of distraction and non-distraction groups in each picture set.


Possible Complications Suggestions for follow-up studies