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Self-Rated Attention to Detail Predicts Threat Detection Performance in Security X-Ray Images

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2012 Pages: 356-371
Date Published
October 2012
16 pages

This study examined the ability of self-rated attention to detail to predict an individual's performance on a simulated X-ray task.


Visual checks of thousands of X-ray images are carried out daily to detect and confiscate items that may compromise public security. Although technological advances are improving detection accuracy, screener-specific factors are also likely to matter. Here the authors investigated whether individual differences in self-rated attention to detail predicted performance on a simulated X-ray task with real small-vehicle images. An established measure of attention to detail was used to screen 124 naïve adults; of these 29 high (n=15) and low (n=14) scoring individuals completed a detection task on unseen X-ray images. High scorers showed better performance than low scorers. The advantage emerged in both sensitivity (higher d') and localization, with high scorers unaffected by task-irrelevant correspondence between vehicle direction and response location. These findings suggest that greater attention to detail is associated with enhanced detection ability, and that recruitment processes for security officers may be improved by assessing Attention to Detail traits. (Published Abstract)

Date Published: October 1, 2012