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

Brown, Chris ORCID:, Berggren, Nick and Forster, Sophie (2019) Not looking for any trouble? Purely affective attentional settings do not induce goal-driven attentional capture. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82. pp. 1150-1165. ISSN 1943-3921

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Brown_Berggren_and_Forster_APP_2019_Not_looking_for_any_trouble_Purely_affective_attentional_settings_do_not_induce_goal-driven_attentional_capture.pdf - Accepted Version

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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
Identifier: 10.3758/s13414-019-01895-1
Additional Information: Open Practices Statement: All tasks, unlicensed images sourced or created for this investigation, as well as data and analysis scripts are available via the Open Science Framework: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. The final authenticated version is available online at:
Keywords: goal-driven attention; contingent capture; threat; attentional biases; RSVP
Subjects: Psychology
Depositing User: Chris Brown
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2019 08:47
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 16:00


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