Attentional Capture by Emotional Faces is Contingent on Attentional Control Settings

Daniel Barratt, Claus Bundesen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Attentional capture by schematic emotional faces was investigated in two experiments using the flanker task devised by Eriksen and Eriksen (1974). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with a central target (a schematic face that was either positive or negative) flanked by two identical distractors, one on either side (schematic faces that were positive, negative, or neutral). The objective was to identify the central target as quickly as possible. The impact of the flankers depended on their emotional expression. Consistent with a threat advantage hypothesis (negative faces are processed faster and attract more processing resources), responses to positive faces were slower when these were flanked by (response incompatible) negative faces as compared with positive or neutral faces, whereas responses to negative faces were unaffected by the identity of the flankers. Experiment 2 was a standard flanker task with letter stimuli except that the task-neutral flankers were schematic faces that were either positive, negative, or emotionally neutral. In this case, in which faces and emotional expressions were to be ignored, performance seemed entirely unaffected by the faces. This result suggests that attentional capture by emotional faces is contingent on attentional control settings.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCognition and Emotion
    Volume26
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1223-1237
    ISSN0269-9931
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Cite this

    @article{e2795a5fe5c644bdb327db4268f9674c,
    title = "Attentional Capture by Emotional Faces is Contingent on Attentional Control Settings",
    abstract = "Attentional capture by schematic emotional faces was investigated in two experiments using the flanker task devised by Eriksen and Eriksen (1974). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with a central target (a schematic face that was either positive or negative) flanked by two identical distractors, one on either side (schematic faces that were positive, negative, or neutral). The objective was to identify the central target as quickly as possible. The impact of the flankers depended on their emotional expression. Consistent with a threat advantage hypothesis (negative faces are processed faster and attract more processing resources), responses to positive faces were slower when these were flanked by (response incompatible) negative faces as compared with positive or neutral faces, whereas responses to negative faces were unaffected by the identity of the flankers. Experiment 2 was a standard flanker task with letter stimuli except that the task-neutral flankers were schematic faces that were either positive, negative, or emotionally neutral. In this case, in which faces and emotional expressions were to be ignored, performance seemed entirely unaffected by the faces. This result suggests that attentional capture by emotional faces is contingent on attentional control settings.",
    keywords = "Visual attention, Attentional capture, Emotional expressions, Schematic faces, Flanker task",
    author = "Daniel Barratt and Claus Bundesen",
    year = "2012",
    doi = "10.1080/02699931.2011.645279",
    language = "English",
    volume = "26",
    pages = "1223--1237",
    journal = "Cognition and Emotion",
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    }

    Attentional Capture by Emotional Faces is Contingent on Attentional Control Settings. / Barratt, Daniel; Bundesen, Claus.

    In: Cognition and Emotion, Vol. 26, No. 7, 2012, p. 1223-1237.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Attentional Capture by Emotional Faces is Contingent on Attentional Control Settings

    AU - Barratt, Daniel

    AU - Bundesen, Claus

    PY - 2012

    Y1 - 2012

    N2 - Attentional capture by schematic emotional faces was investigated in two experiments using the flanker task devised by Eriksen and Eriksen (1974). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with a central target (a schematic face that was either positive or negative) flanked by two identical distractors, one on either side (schematic faces that were positive, negative, or neutral). The objective was to identify the central target as quickly as possible. The impact of the flankers depended on their emotional expression. Consistent with a threat advantage hypothesis (negative faces are processed faster and attract more processing resources), responses to positive faces were slower when these were flanked by (response incompatible) negative faces as compared with positive or neutral faces, whereas responses to negative faces were unaffected by the identity of the flankers. Experiment 2 was a standard flanker task with letter stimuli except that the task-neutral flankers were schematic faces that were either positive, negative, or emotionally neutral. In this case, in which faces and emotional expressions were to be ignored, performance seemed entirely unaffected by the faces. This result suggests that attentional capture by emotional faces is contingent on attentional control settings.

    AB - Attentional capture by schematic emotional faces was investigated in two experiments using the flanker task devised by Eriksen and Eriksen (1974). In Experiment 1, participants were presented with a central target (a schematic face that was either positive or negative) flanked by two identical distractors, one on either side (schematic faces that were positive, negative, or neutral). The objective was to identify the central target as quickly as possible. The impact of the flankers depended on their emotional expression. Consistent with a threat advantage hypothesis (negative faces are processed faster and attract more processing resources), responses to positive faces were slower when these were flanked by (response incompatible) negative faces as compared with positive or neutral faces, whereas responses to negative faces were unaffected by the identity of the flankers. Experiment 2 was a standard flanker task with letter stimuli except that the task-neutral flankers were schematic faces that were either positive, negative, or emotionally neutral. In this case, in which faces and emotional expressions were to be ignored, performance seemed entirely unaffected by the faces. This result suggests that attentional capture by emotional faces is contingent on attentional control settings.

    KW - Visual attention

    KW - Attentional capture

    KW - Emotional expressions

    KW - Schematic faces

    KW - Flanker task

    U2 - 10.1080/02699931.2011.645279

    DO - 10.1080/02699931.2011.645279

    M3 - Journal article

    VL - 26

    SP - 1223

    EP - 1237

    JO - Cognition and Emotion

    JF - Cognition and Emotion

    SN - 0269-9931

    IS - 7

    ER -