Testing a goal-driven account of involuntary attentional capture by threat

Brown, Chris ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4960-5564, Berggren, N and Forster, S (2019) Testing a goal-driven account of involuntary attentional capture by threat. Emotion. ISSN 1528-3542

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Abstract

Attention has long been characterised within prominent models as reflecting a competition between goal-driven and stimulus-driven processes. It remains unclear, however, how involuntary attentional capture by affective stimuli, such as threat-laden content, fits into such models. While such effects were traditionally held to reflect stimulus-driven processes, recent research has increasingly implicated a critical role of goal-driven processes. Here we test an alternative goal-driven account of involuntary attentional capture by threat, using an experimental manipulation of goal-driven attention. To this end we combined the classic ‘contingent capture’ and ‘emotion-induced blink’ (EIB) paradigms in an RSVP task with both positive or threatening target search goals. Across six experiments, positive and threat distractors were presented in peripheral, parafoveal, and central locations. Across all distractor locations, we found that involuntary attentional capture by irrelevant threatening distractors could be induced via the adoption of a search goal for a threatening category; adopting a goal for a positive category conversely led to capture only by positive stimuli. Our findings provide direct experimental evidence for a causal role of voluntary goals in involuntary capture by irrelevant threat stimuli, and hence demonstrate the plausibility of a top-down account of this phenomenon. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to current cognitive models of attention and clinical disorders.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, 2019. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000565
Uncontrolled Keywords: threat; attentional bias; selective attention; goal-driven attention; top-down attention
Subjects: Psychology
Depositing User: Chris Brown
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2019 13:19
Last Modified: 09 May 2019 08:29
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/5765

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