Not looking for any trouble? Purely affective attentional settings do not induce goal-driven attentional capture

Brown, Chris R H, Berggren, Nick and Forster, Sophie (2019) Not looking for any trouble? Purely affective attentional settings do not induce goal-driven attentional capture. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. ISSN 1943-3921

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It is well established that directing goal-driven attention to a particular stimulus property (e.g. red), or a conceptual category (e.g. toys) can induce powerful involuntary capture by goal-matching stimuli. Here we tested whether broad affective search goals (e.g. for anything threat-related) could similarly induce a generalised capture to an entire matching affective category. Across four experiments, participants were instructed to search for threat-related images in a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) stream, while ignoring threat-related distractors presented in task-irrelevant locations. Across these experiments we found no evidence of goal-driven attentional capture by threat distractors when participants adopted a general ‘threat detection’ goal encompassing multiple sub-categories of threat (Experiments 1a, 1b). This was true even when there was partial overlap between the threat distractors and the search goal (i.e. subset of the targets matched the distractor; Experiment 2). However, when participants adopted a more specific goal for a single sub-category of threat (e.g. fearful faces), robust goal-driven capture occurred by distractors matching this sub-category (Experiment 3). These findings suggest that while affective criteria can be used in the guidance of attention, attentional settings based on affective properties alone may not induce goal-driven attentional capture. We discuss implications for recent goal-driven accounts of affective attentional biases.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Goal-driven attention; contingent capture; threat; attentional biases; RSVP
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:06
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2020 15:30

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