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Carrick C. Williams

Carrick C. Williams

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Office: SBSB 3205

Carrick C. Williams

I joined the Psychology Department at California State University San Marcos in the Fall of 2014.

My research is in Cognitive Psychology. I am particularly interested in the interaction of vision, memory, and attention.  I employ a variety of techniques including eye movement monitoring, visual search tasks, memory tests, and performance measures. I hope to understand how people representation visual information and how people apply that understanding to real-world situations.



Ph.D. in Psychology, Michigan State University, 2003

M.A. in Psychology, Michigan State University, 1997

B.S. in Psychology and Political Science, Kansas State University, 1995

Post Doctoral Training

Psychology, University of Massachusetts, 2003-2005


Research Areas:

Visual Search and Visual Memory

When looking for your favorite coffee cup on a desk,  you could look at a telephone, a computer keyboard, a stapler, and/or a red pen, each of which could be processed but is not part of the current goal. Once find the coffee cup, you may later be grading and need that red pen you saw earlier. Will you remember that you saw the red pen and will you remember where it is? What factors would influence your memory of pen and your coffee cup? One area of my research focuses on the processing and visual representations of targets and distractors from visual search. My goal has been to explore the details that are retained in visual memory for these items and the factors that are involved in the encoding and retrieval of these memory representations.

Eye movement Control

My collaborators and I have explored what information can be extracted during a visual search and what information is used to determine when and where the eyes move. By exploring the nature of the eye movements, one can potentially model the way that eyes will move when confronted with a search task.

Face memory

After briefly meeting a new person, can you recognize the person’s face the next time you see that person? What if that person is from a different ethnic group than you are or the face is partially masked from view, are you as good at recognizing his or her face?  Our abilities in face recognition are impressive given the complexity and homogeneity of the stimulus and have been studied extensively. Although we already have answers to questions above, my interest lies in the impact of attentional processes at both the encoding and retrieval on face memory.

Applied Work

I have been involved in applied work with eye movements as well. One area that I have done more work in is with driving and eye movements older adults (Garrison & Williams, 2013; Romoser, Pollatsek, Fisher, & Williams, 2014). By examining what is being looked at, we can explore how attention and driving performance interact. For example, how do types of police dispatch calls affect driving and eye movements in a simulated environment? 

In addition to driving, I have also been involved with research examining warning maps for hurricanes (Sherman-Morris, Antonelli, & Williams, 2015). We examine what features lead to more accurate and faster response to storm surge warnings and what people look at in the images.


PSYC 393: Lab in Cognitive Psychology

PSYC 490: History of Psychology

PSYC 499: Independent Research

PSYC 530: Advanced Research Methods


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • Sherman-Morris, K., Antonelli, K. B., & Williams, C. C. (2015). Measuring the effectiveness of the graphical communication of hurricane storm surge threat. Weather, Climate, and Society, 7, 69-82. doi: 10.1175/WCAS-D-13-00073.1
  • Thomas, M. D., & Williams, C. C. (2014). The target effect: Visual memory for unnamed search targets. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology67(11), 2090-2104. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2014.905611
  • Williams, C. C., Pollatsek, A., & Reichle, E. D. (2014). Examining eye movements in visual search through clusters of objects in a circular array. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 26 (1), 1-14. doi:10.1080/20445911.2013.865630
  • Garrison, T. M., & Williams, C. C. (2013). Impact of relevance and distraction on driving performance and visual attention in a simulated driving environment. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 27(3), 396-405. doi: 10.1002/acp.2917
  • Romoser, M. R. E., Pollatsek, A., Fisher, D. L., & Williams, C. C. (2013). Comparing the glance patterns of older versus younger experienced drivers: Scanning for hazards while approaching and entering the intersection. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 16, 104-116. doi: 10.1016/j.trf.2012.08.004
  • Thomas, M. D., & Williams, C. C. (2012). Police car visibility: Detection, categorization, and defining components. Journal of Law Enforcement, 2 (3), 1-29.
  • Williams, C. C. (2010). Incidental and intentional visual memory: What memories are and are not affected by encoding task? Visual Cognition, 18, 1348-1367. doi:10.1080/13506285.2010.486280
  • Williams, C. C. (2010). Not all visual memories are created equal. Visual Cognition, 18, 201-228.doi:10.1080/13506280802664482
  • Williams, C. C., Pollatsek, A., Cave, K. R., & Stroud, M. J. (2009). More than just finding color: Strategy in global visual search is shaped by learned target probabilities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 35, 688-699.doi:10.1037/a0013900
  • Williams, C. C., Zacks, R. T., & Henderson, J. M. (2009). Age differences in what is viewed and remembered in complex conjunction search. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 946-966. doi:10.1080/17470210802321976
  • Williams, C. C., & Henderson, J. M. (2007). The face inversion effect is not a consequence of aberrant eye movements. Memory and Cognition, 35, 1977-1985. doi: 10.3758/BF03192930
  • Rayner, K., Li, X., Williams, C. C., Cave, K. R., & Well, A. D. (2007). Eye movements during information processing tasks: Individual differences and cultural effects. Vision Research, 47, 2714-2726. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2007.05.007.
  • Williams, C. C., & Pollatsek, A. (2007). Searching for an O in an array of Cs: Eye movements track moment-to-moment processing in visual search. Perception & Psychophysics, 69, 372-381. doi: 10.3758/BF03193758
  • Christianson, K., Williams, C. C., Zacks, R. T., & Ferreira, F. (2006). Younger and older adults’ “Good Enough” interpretations of garden path sentences. Discourse Processes, 42, 205-238. doi:10.1207/s15326950dp4202_6
  • Rayner, K., Reichle, E. D., Stroud, M. J., Williams, C. C., & Pollatsek, A. (2006). The effect of word frequency, word predictability, and font difficulty on the eye movements of younger and elderly readers. Psychology & Aging, 21, 448-465. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.21.3.448
  • Williams, C. C., Perea, M., Pollatsek, A., & Rayner, K. (2006). Previewing the neighborhood: The role of orthographic neighbors as parafoveal previews in reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 32, 1072-1082.doi:10.1037/0096-1523.32.4.1072
  • Henderson, J. M., Williams, C. C., & Falk, R. J. (2005). Eye movements are functional during face learning. Memory & Cognition, 33, 98-106. doi: 10.3758/BF03195300
  • Williams, C. C., Henderson, J. M., & Zacks, R. T. (2005). Incidental visual memory for targets and distractors in visual search. Perception & Psychophysics, 67, 816-827. doi: 10.3758/BF03193535
  • Davidson, D. J., Zacks, R. T., & Williams, C. C. (2003). Stroop interference, practice, and aging. Aging, Neuropsychology, & Cognition10, 85-98. doi:10.1076/anec.
  • Henderson, J. M., Williams, C. C., Castelhano, M. S., Falk, R. J. (2003). Eye movements and picture processing during recognition. Perception & Psychophysics65, 725-734. doi: 10.3758/BF03194809
  • Butler, K. M., Williams, C. C., Zacks, R. T., Maki, R. (2001). Limits on retrieval-induced forgetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 27, 1314-1319. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.27.5.1314
  • Hollingworth, A., Williams, C. C., & Henderson, J. M. (2001). Scene context and change blindness: Memory mediates change detection. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8, 761-768. doi: 10.3758/BF03196215
  • Williams, C. C., & Zacks, R. T. (2001). Is retrieval-induced forgetting an inhibitory process? American Journal of Psychology, 114,329-354. doi:10.2307/1423685

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