Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 907–913 | Cite as

Hide and seek: The theory of mind of visual concealment and search

  • Giles M. Anderson
  • Tom Foulsham
  • Eleni Nasiopoulos
  • Craig S. Chapman
  • Alan Kingstone


Researchers have investigated visual search behavior for almost a century. During that time, few studies have examined the cognitive processes involved in hiding items rather than finding them. To investigate this, we developed a paradigm that allowed participants to indicate where they would hide (or find) an item that was to be found (or hidden) by a friend or a foe. We found that (i) for friends more than foes, participants selected the pop-out item in the display, and (ii) when the display was homogeneous, they selected nearby and corner items. These behaviors held for both hiding and finding, although hide and find behaviors were not identical. For pop-out displays, decision times were unusually long when hiding an item from a foe. These data converge on the conclusion that the principles of search and concealment are similar, but not the same. They also suggest that this paradigm will provide researchers a powerful method for investigating theory of mind in adults.


Hiding strategies Embodied perception Visual search 


  1. Anderson, G. M., Heinke, D., & Humphreys, G. W. (2010). Featural guidance in conjunction search: The contrast between orientation and color. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36, 1108–1127.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Clark, H. H., Schreuder, R., & Buttrick, S. (1983). Common ground and the understanding of demonstrative reference. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 22, 245–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Duncan, J., & Humphreys, G. W. (1992). Beyond the search surface: Visual search and attentional engagement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18, 578–588. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.18.2.578 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Legge, E. L. G., Spetch, M. L., Cenkner, A., Bulitko, V., Anderson, C., Brown, M., & Heth, D. (2012). Not all locations are created equal: Exploring how adults hide and search for objects. PLoS ONE, 7, e36993. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036993 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Nakayama, K., & Martini, P. (2011). Situating visual search. Vision Research, 51, 1526–1537.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Olejnik, S., & Algina, J. (2003). Generalized eta and omega squared statistics: Measures of effect size for some common research designs. Psychological Methods, 8, 434–447. doi: 10.1037/1082-989X.8.4.434 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Prime, S. L., & Marotta, J. J. (2013). Gaze strategies during visually guided versus memory-guided grasping. Experimental Brain Research, 225, 291–305.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Smilek, D., Weinheimer, L., Kwan, D., Reynolds, M., & Kingstone, A. (2009). Hiding and finding: The relationship between visual concealment and visual search. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71, 1793–1806. doi: 10.3758/APP.71.8.1793 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Talbot, K. J., Legge, E. L. G., Bulitko, V., & Spetch, M. L. (2009). Hiding and searching strategies of adult humans in a virtual and a real-space room. Learning and Motivation, 40, 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giles M. Anderson
    • 1
  • Tom Foulsham
    • 2
  • Eleni Nasiopoulos
    • 3
  • Craig S. Chapman
    • 4
  • Alan Kingstone
    • 3
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK
  2. 2.University of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations