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Michael S. Ambinder, Daniel J. Simons; Individual differences in attention capture. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):589. doi: 10.1167/6.6.589.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The sudden appearance of a new object in a search display is thought to capture attention in a stimulus-driven fashion. That is, people tend to search the onset location first, even if it does not predict the search-target location. Our previous research (VSS-2005) showed that attention capture by an onset is less robust than previously thought, and that minor variations on seemingly irrelevant task parameters modulated capture. Here we examine whether individual differences in experiences or personality might explain variability in capture. We hypothesized that extensive experience with visual tasks requiring divided attention across regions of a display might attenuate capture. 112 participants completed surveys on their TV-watching and video game experience and their tendency to internalize or externalize stimuli. They then performed a visual search task with an abrupt onset in the display, and we examined whether capture was modulated by their experience, personality, and motivation (rated by the experimenter). Neither the amount of TV watched nor the tendency to internalize or externalize stimuli had an effect on capture. However, female subjects were more likely to exhibit capture than male subjects. Moreover, previous video game experience appeared to modulate capture, with puzzle-game players exhibiting more capture and real-time strategy game players showing less capture. Participants who appeared more highly motivated to participate in the experiment also showed less capture. These findings show that individual differences can mediate attention capture and that these differences might contribute to variations in the extent of capture across experiments.
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