Threat captures attention, but not automatically: top-down goals modulate attentional orienting to threat distractors

Vromen, Joyce M. G., Lipp, Ottmar V., Remington, Roger W. and Becker, Stefanie I. (2016) Threat captures attention, but not automatically: top-down goals modulate attentional orienting to threat distractors. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 78 7: 2266-2279. doi:10.3758/s13414-016-1142-3


Author Vromen, Joyce M. G.
Lipp, Ottmar V.
Remington, Roger W.
Becker, Stefanie I.
Title Threat captures attention, but not automatically: top-down goals modulate attentional orienting to threat distractors
Journal name Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1943-393X
1943-3921
Publication date 2016-10-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3758/s13414-016-1142-3
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 78
Issue 7
Start page 2266
End page 2279
Total pages 14
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Abstract The rapid orienting of attention to potential threats has been proposed to proceed outside of top-down control. However, paradigms that have been used to investigate this have struggled to separate the rapid orienting of attention (i.e. capture) from the later disengagement of focal attention that may be subject to top-down control. Consequently, it remains unclear whether and to what extent orienting to threat is contingent on top-down goals. The current study manipulated the goal-relevance of threat distractors (spiders), whilst a strict top-down attentional set was encouraged by presenting the saliently colored target and the threat distracter simultaneously for a limited time. The goal-relevance of threatening distractors was manipulated by including a spider amongst the possible target stimuli (Experiment 1: spider/cat targets) or excluding it (Experiment 2: bird/fish targets). Orienting and disengagement were disentangled by cueing attention away from or towards the threat prior to its onset. The results indicated that the threatening spider distractors elicited rapid orienting of attention when spiders were potentially goal-relevant (Experiment 1) but did so much less when they were irrelevant to the task goal (Experiment 2). Delayed disengagement from the threat distractors was even more strongly contingent on the task goal and occurred only when a spider was a possible target. These results highlight the role of top-down goals in attentional orienting to and disengagement from threat.
Keyword Capture
Disengagement
Response time distribution
Threat
Top-down goals
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID DP120100750
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
 
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