Pieter Vansteenkiste

Pieter Vansteenkiste graduated as master of physical education and movement sciences at Ghent University, Belgium.

As a PhD-student, he studied the role of visual information in the steering behaviour of young and adult bicyclists. Currently, Pieter works at the department of movement and sports sciences of Ghent University as a post-doctoral assistant, where he studies the role of visual information and cognitive control in sports, traffic, and lifeguarding. In the past years, Pieter has conducted and supervised multiple eye-tracking experiments, both in laboratory, as in real-life settings.

Research project: The dynamics of visual search during a surveillance task

At the Polish Institute of Advanced Studies PIASt, Dr. Pieter Vansteenkiste will study visual search behaviour during a lifeguard surveillance task.

As the speed at which a person in need is spotted directly affects their chances for a full recovery, early detection of (potential) drowning is a key factor in lifeguard surveillance. It is therefore important to properly train lifeguards in performing this task as efficiently as possible. Surprisingly, there is no consensus on how to scan for distress or drowning, and ‘surveillance’ is rarely an element of the lifeguard training courses.

To fill this hiatus in the lifeguard training program, we are currently staging and filming various hazardous indoor pool scenarios. With these videos we might be able to train novice lifeguards to detect potential problems quickly and adequately. However, studying the visual search behaviour of lifeguards might also answer more fundamental questions about visual search and sustained attention.

The main aim of the current research project is to explore the dynamics of visual search during a lifeguard surveillance task. Results of this study could provide significant contributions to the field of cognitive sciences (i.e. understanding how visual search is guided while watching complex scenes over an extended period of time), and might have implications in the fields of applied and educational psychology (i.e. how to train and prepare novices for a surveillance task).

Dates of stay: 1 March - 31 July 2021