Terms of debate: Consensus definitions to guide the scientific discourse on visual distraction

Heinrich R. Liesefeld*, Dominique Lamy*, Nicholas Gaspelin, Joy J. Geng, Dirk Kerzel, Jeffrey D. Schall, Harriet A. Allen, Brian A. Anderson, Sage Boettcher, Niko A. Busch, Nancy B. Carlisle, Hans Colonius, Dejan Draschkow, Howard Egeth, Andrew B. Leber, Hermann J. Müller, Jan Philipp Röer, Anna Schubö, Heleen A. Slagter, Jan TheeuwesJeremy Wolfe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Hypothesis-driven research rests on clearly articulated scientific theories. The building blocks for communicating these theories are scientific terms. Obviously, communication – and thus, scientific progress – is hampered if the meaning of these terms varies idiosyncratically across (sub)fields and even across individual researchers within the same subfield. We have formed an international group of experts representing various theoretical stances with the goal to homogenize the use of the terms that are most relevant to fundamental research on visual distraction in visual search. Our discussions revealed striking heterogeneity and we had to invest much time and effort to increase our mutual understanding of each other’s use of central terms, which turned out to be strongly related to our respective theoretical positions. We present the outcomes of these discussions in a glossary and provide some context in several essays. Specifically, we explicate how central terms are used in the distraction literature and consensually sharpen their definitions in order to enable communication across theoretical standpoints. Where applicable, we also explain how the respective constructs can be measured. We believe that this novel type of adversarial collaboration can serve as a model for other fields of psychological research that strive to build a solid groundwork for theorizing and communicating by establishing a common language. For the field of visual distraction, the present paper should facilitate communication across theoretical standpoints and may serve as an introduction and reference text for newcomers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationBCS-2021038
National Institutes of HealthR15 EY030247
National Eye Institute
European Research Council833029
Israel Science Foundation2449/21


    • Adversarial collaboration
    • Definitions
    • Taxonomy
    • Visual distraction
    • Visual search


    Dive into the research topics of 'Terms of debate: Consensus definitions to guide the scientific discourse on visual distraction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this