Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trained airport checkpoint screeners miss rare targets

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO)
Summary:
Holiday travelers will be relieved to know that security threats are rarely encountered at airport checkpoints. But according to a new study, the low frequency at which trained airport screeners find threats reduces the chances targets will be found.

Holiday travelers will be relieved to know that security threats are rarely encountered at airport checkpoints. But according to a new study published in the Journal of Vision, the low frequency at which trained airport screeners find threats reduces the chances targets will be found.

Related Articles


"When humans are looking for something, we know that they are more likely to miss that something if it is rare," said author Jeremy M. Wolfe, PhD, of the Visual Attention Lab, Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "This is the low prevalence effect and can be summed up with the one-liner, 'If you don't find it often, you often don't find it.'"

In the paper, Prevalence effects in newly trained airport checkpoint screeners: Trained observers miss rare targets, too, vision scientists report findings based on experiments with 125 newly trained transportation security officers (TSOs). The team of researchers found that the TSOs were better at detecting targets that appeared frequently as opposed to rarely.

Following their training, the TSOs participated in the experiments as part of their final evaluation. The TSOs were asked to search for images such as guns, knives and bombs in x-ray images of carry-on luggage. They searched for targets in five different sets of bags. The first three sets included targets that appeared at a low frequency, the fourth set had targets appear at a high frequency with feedback to let the observers know if they had been right or wrong and the fifth set of bags had targets appear at a low frequency again.

The results showed that in addition to being better at detecting targets that appeared frequently, the TSOs performed better when searching the set of bags where the target appeared rarely following the set where the potential threat appeared frequently with feedback activity. The authors suggest this provides some evidence that the short burst of high frequency with feedback may alleviate the prevalence effect and that such intervention might work for TSOs in the field as well. "However, much more research with TSOs and in the lab is needed before we have a good idea of how to minimize errors," said Wolfe.

Wolfe and his colleague have found prevalence effects under a wide range of laboratory conditions and view it as a robust part of the human search engine. For example, the research team found similar effects with radiologists performing breast cancer screenings. "It is important to show that professionals have to make do with the same 'search engine' as everyone else," said Wolfe, "They use it extremely well to perform a very difficult search task, but the fundamental limitations that constrain us amateurs constrain the professionals as well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. M. Wolfe, D. N. Brunelli, J. Rubinstein, T. S. Horowitz. Prevalence effects in newly trained airport checkpoint screeners: Trained observers miss rare targets, too. Journal of Vision, 2013; 13 (3): 33 DOI: 10.1167/13.3.33

Cite This Page:

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). "Trained airport checkpoint screeners miss rare targets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183800.htm>.
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). (2013, December 11). Trained airport checkpoint screeners miss rare targets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183800.htm
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). "Trained airport checkpoint screeners miss rare targets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211183800.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins