On the Control of Spatial Attention: Is There an Attentional Bias Toward Threatening Objects? Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/mp48sf39c

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  • Stimuli signaling threat are often processed especially rapidly (e.g., Fox, Russo, & Dutton, 2002). Similarly, some studies have suggested that expressions of fear have a strong pull on our attention because they signal threat (e.g., Phelps, Ling, & Carrasco, 2006; Shaw, Lien, Ruthruff, & Allen, in press; Vuilleumier & Schwartz, 2001). These stimuli, however, were typically relevant to the task (i.e., were targets). The present study questioned whether fearful facial expressions capture attention involuntarily (i.e., automatically) even when they are irrelevant. A cuing paradigm was used in the present study. Participants were instructed to search the target display for a pre-specified target object, which was either a letter in a specific color (Exp. 1) or a face with a specific emotional expression (Exps. 1-5). The target display was always preceded by a non-informative cue display, which could contain a fearful face and/or a neutral face. The face could appear in the same location as the upcoming target (“valid” trials; 25% of the trials) or in a different location (“invalid” trials; 75% of the trials). The critical measure of attentional capture is the cue validity effect (Invalid minus valid) on response time (RT) and Proportion error (PE).
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