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Emotional-Induced Attentional Bias is Object-Based not Location-Based Public Deposited

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  • Presented at the 2018 Celebrating Undergraduate Excellence showcase. People respond more quickly and accurately when the stimulus appears in the same spatial location as the response than when it appears in the different location, even when stimulus location is irrelevant to the task. This robust phenomenon is know as a Simon effect. Schlaghecken and his colleagues (2017) found that the Simon effect was smaller for an angry face than a happy face. This reduction of the Simon effect was also observed for nonvalenced, neutral objects (arrows and pointing hands) that required the same response to as angry faces, suggesting spatial attention is biased away from the location associated with a negative-face response and toward the location associated with a positive-face response. We examined whether the reduction of the Simon effect is location-based as suggested. In Experiments 1 & 2, participants pressed a left or right key in response to a happy/sad schematic face or to a left-/right-pointing arrow that appeared on the left or right side of the fixation point. Faces and arrows were presented in different blocks in Experiment 1 and in the same block in Experiment 2. Consistent with Schlaghecken et al.'s results, the Simon effect was smaller in the magnitude for angry faces than happy faces. However, in contrast to their findings, Simon effect for arrows was not modulated by the emotional valence of faces. A similar finding was observed with pointing hands in Experiment 3. We argue that attentional bias is associated with a specific stimuli (e.g., face objects) not specific locations.
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