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Karen M. Arnell, Kassandra Killman, David Fijavz; Blinded by Emotions: Target misses follow attentional capture by arousing distractors in RSVP. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):359. doi: 10.1167/4.8.359.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When two targets are presented in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) streams, report accuracy for the second target is low when it is presented less than 500 ms after the first target (an attentional blink). In contrast, report accuracy of single targets presented in RSVP streams is high, given that RSVP distractors do not typically deplete the attentional resources needed to perform the target task. In our experiment participants were asked to report the identity of a single color word target that appeared in each RSVP stream (a 10 AFC response). A pseudo-target word that appeared to be a normal distractor was presented 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 8 items before the target word. This pseudo-target was of neutral valence (binder, aisle), negative valence but low arousal (boredom, sad), positive valence (cheer, glad), or high arousal and variable valance (orgasm, shit). The arousing/taboo words led to lower overall accuracy on the target task, and set-off an AB to a subsequent color word target, despite the fact that they appeared as distractors. However, no AB was evidenced with negative, positive, or neutral word distractors. Target accuracy was predicted by the arousal ratings, but not the valence ratings (positive-negative) that participants gave to the words. The presence of this emotion blindness provides evidence that arousing words grab attention in a bottom-up manner, sometimes at the expense of top-down target search.
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