Visual skills in airport-security screening

Jason S. McCarley, Arthur F. Kramer, Christopher D. Wickens, Eric D. Vidoni, Walter R. Boot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An experiment examined visual performance in a simulated luggage-screening task. Observers participated in five sessions of a task requiring them to search for knives hidden in x-ray images of cluttered bags. Sensitivity and response times improved reliably as a result of practice. Eye movement data revealed that sensitivity increases were produced entirely by changes in observers' ability to recognize target objects, and not by changes in the effectiveness of visual scanning. Moreover, recognition skills were in part stimulus-specific, such that performance was degraded by the introduction of unfamiliar target objects. Implications for screener training are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-306
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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