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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2010 Sep;16(3):251-62. doi: 10.1037/a0020082.

Viewing another person's eye movements improves identification of pulmonary nodules in chest x-ray inspection.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.


Double reading of chest x-rays is often used to ensure that fewer abnormalities are missed, but very little is known about how the search behavior of others affects observer performance. A series of experiments investigated whether radiographers benefit from knowing where another person looked for pulmonary nodules, and whether the expertise of the model providing the search behavior was a contributing factor. Experiment 1 compared the diagnostic performance of novice and experienced radiographers examining chest x-rays and found that both groups performed better when shown the search behavior of either a novice radiographer or an expert radiologist. Experiment 2 established that benefits in performance only arose when the eye movements shown were related to the search for nodules; however, only the novices' diagnostic performance consistently improved when shown the expert's search behavior. Experiment 3 reexamined the contribution of task, image, and the expertise of the model underlying this benefit. Consistent with Experiment 1, novice radiographers were better at identifying nodules when shown either a naïve's search behavior or an expert radiologist's search behavior, but they demonstrated no improvement when shown a naïve model not searching for nodules. Our results suggest that although the benefits of this form of attentional guidance may be short-lived, novices can scaffold their decisions based on the search behavior of others.

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