Failures to ignore entirely irrelevant distractors: the role of load

Forster, Sophie and Lavie, Nilli (2008) Failures to ignore entirely irrelevant distractors: the role of load. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 14 (1). pp. 73-83. ISSN 1076-898X

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Abstract

In daily life (e.g., in the work environment) people are often distracted by stimuli that are clearly irrelevant to the current task and should be ignored. In contrast, much applied distraction research has focused on task interruptions by information that requires a response and therefore cannot be ignored. Moreover, the most commonly used laboratory measures of distractibility (e.g., in the response-competition and attentional-capture paradigms), typically involve distractors that are task relevant (e.g., through response associations or location). A series of experiments assessed interference effects from stimuli that are entirely unrelated to the current task, comparing the effects of perceptual load on task-irrelevant and task-relevant (response competing) distractors. The results showed that an entirely irrelevant distractor can interfere with task performance to the same extent as a response-competing distractor and that, as with other types of distractors, the interfering effects of the irrelevant distractors can be eliminated with high perceptual load in the relevant task. These findings establish a new laboratory measure of a form of distractibility common to everyday life and highlight load as an important determinant of such distractibility.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QZ Psychology
Depositing User: Sophie Forster
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2013 07:59
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 03:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/45625

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