The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Do emotional faces capture attention, and does this depend on awareness? Evidence from the visual probe paradigm

Do emotional faces capture attention, and does this depend on awareness? Evidence from the visual probe paradigm
Do emotional faces capture attention, and does this depend on awareness? Evidence from the visual probe paradigm
The visual probe (VP) paradigm provides evidence that emotional stimuli attract attention. Such effects have been reported even when stimuli are presented outside of awareness. These findings have shaped the idea that humans possess a processing pathway that detects evolutionarily significant signals independently of awareness. Here, we addressed 2 unresolved questions: First, if emotional stimuli attract attention, is this driven by their affective content, or by low-level image properties (e.g., luminance contrast)? Second, does attentional capture occur under conditions of genuine unawareness? We found that observers preferentially allocated attention to emotional faces under aware viewing conditions. However, this effect was best explained by low-level stimulus properties, rather than emotional content. When stimuli were presented outside of awareness (via continuous flash suppression or masking), we found no evidence that attention was directed toward emotional face stimuli. Finally, observer’s awareness of the stimuli (assessed by d′) predicted attentional cuing. Our data challenge existing literature: First, we cast doubt on the notion of preferential attention to emotional stimuli in the absence of awareness. Second, we question whether effects revealed by the VP paradigm genuinely reflect emotion-sensitive processes, instead suggesting they can be more parsimoniously explained by low-level variability between stimuli.
0096-1523
790-802
Hedger, Nicholas
227a4302-301b-41d1-ac07-aeef8f7b4016
Garner, Matthew
3221c5b3-b951-4fec-b456-ec449e4ce072
Adams, Wendy
25685aaa-fc54-4d25-8d65-f35f4c5ab688
Hedger, Nicholas
227a4302-301b-41d1-ac07-aeef8f7b4016
Garner, Matthew
3221c5b3-b951-4fec-b456-ec449e4ce072
Adams, Wendy
25685aaa-fc54-4d25-8d65-f35f4c5ab688

Hedger, Nicholas, Garner, Matthew and Adams, Wendy (2019) Do emotional faces capture attention, and does this depend on awareness? Evidence from the visual probe paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 45 (6), 790-802. (doi:10.1037/xhp0000640).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The visual probe (VP) paradigm provides evidence that emotional stimuli attract attention. Such effects have been reported even when stimuli are presented outside of awareness. These findings have shaped the idea that humans possess a processing pathway that detects evolutionarily significant signals independently of awareness. Here, we addressed 2 unresolved questions: First, if emotional stimuli attract attention, is this driven by their affective content, or by low-level image properties (e.g., luminance contrast)? Second, does attentional capture occur under conditions of genuine unawareness? We found that observers preferentially allocated attention to emotional faces under aware viewing conditions. However, this effect was best explained by low-level stimulus properties, rather than emotional content. When stimuli were presented outside of awareness (via continuous flash suppression or masking), we found no evidence that attention was directed toward emotional face stimuli. Finally, observer’s awareness of the stimuli (assessed by d′) predicted attentional cuing. Our data challenge existing literature: First, we cast doubt on the notion of preferential attention to emotional stimuli in the absence of awareness. Second, we question whether effects revealed by the VP paradigm genuinely reflect emotion-sensitive processes, instead suggesting they can be more parsimoniously explained by low-level variability between stimuli.

Text
Hedger Garner Adams 2019 - Accepted Manuscript
Download (1MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 28 January 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 18 April 2019
Published date: June 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427993
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427993
ISSN: 0096-1523
PURE UUID: cb1f7a93-29fb-45f7-9123-cdaf5393b7de
ORCID for Wendy Adams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5832-1056

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Feb 2019 17:30
Last modified: 02 Jul 2019 00:35

Export record

Altmetrics

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×