Victoria Arvizu

Victoria was born and raised here in Las Cruces, NM. She is currently an undergraduate student working on a bachelor’s in Psychology and Government with a minor in National Security. She also works in Dr. Hout’s research lab, helping with various studies. She plans to go to graduate school for applied behavioral psychology or cognitive psychology and eventually receive a PhD. Her ideal career would be working in the national intelligence community. She enjoys spending time with animals, reading, and watching movies in her free time.


Project Description: 

Visual search is a task performed by nearly everyone countless times each day (e.g., looking for one’s keys, searching for items at the grocery store). Certain professions, however, may also require individuals to search for things or engage in challenging visual attentive tasks as part of their duties. For instance, professions such as law enforcement, the military, Border Patrol, and firefighters have duties that may require sustained visual attention, rapid detection of events and threats, and superior scanning and identification of search targets. As such, by virtue of their profession and training, such individuals may have acquired search and scanning behaviors that are superior to those of the lay public. The goal of this project is to assess whether or not previous training in relevant search behaviors yields more effective performance in a simulated search and rescue “clue finding” task in open terrain. Participants will search two open courtyards for hidden clues from a variety of categories with the objective of finding as many as possible in time allotted. Performance from novices will be compared to that of experts from a variety of professions in order to establish whether prior visual training results in superior search performance.


  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Take the GRE
  • Promote #DiscoveryScholars ten times on social media
  • Apply for graduate or professional school


Victoria’s mentor: Dr. Michael C. Hout:

Michael C. Hout grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for his bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University, and an Associate Editor at the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. His research focuses primarily on visual cognition (including visual search, attention, eye movements, and memory) and the development of alternative methods of collecting similarity data for use in multi-dimensional scaling. He has won several awards for research and teaching, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, and currently engages in outside consulting for organizations such as Major League Baseball. In his limited free time, he enjoys walking his dogs, hiking, playing hockey, and riding his motorcycle.