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Nikki Westoby, Jane E. Raymond; How persistent is attentional modulation of affective evaluation?. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):392. doi: 10.1167/5.8.392.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research has shown that if a stimulus is evaluated along an emotional dimension immediately after being seen in a simple selective attention task, its evaluation will be more negative if it had been previously viewed as a distractor than if it had been seen as a target (Raymond, et al., 2003, Psych Sci, 14 (6), 537–542). Here, we extended the investigation of this distractor devaluation effect in three ways. First, we asked whether such effects could be produced when target search was slow and effortful, requiring analysis of each distractor. Second, we asked if these effects could be obtained using exemplars of everyday objects, as opposed to the abstract patterns studied previously. Third, we explored whether distractor devaluation would persist even when other information and other evaluative tasks were imposed between exposure to an item in a search task and its subsequent evaluation. Using full colour photographs of objects, we asked participants to categorize as quickly as possible a categorical oddball in a 3-item display. After each search task, participants rated a single object on a “good” or “bad” scale. The item evaluated was either from the immediately preceding trial (n); seen about 5 s earlier) or from the n-4 search trial (seen about 66 s earlier). We found that for both n and n-4 conditions, items previously seen as distractors were rated more negatively than items previously seen as targets. The results suggest that distractor devaluation effects can persist over relatively long intervals and can modulate responses to a wide range of stimuli. Our findings support the idea that attentional modulation of emotional appraisal results from persistent attentional inhibition that becomes associated with an object's representation.
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