September 2005
Volume 5, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2005
Threat images attentuate change blindness
Author Affiliations
  • January Massin
    New School University
  • Arien Mack
    New School University
Journal of Vision September 2005, Vol.5, 556. doi:10.1167/5.8.556
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      January Massin, Arien Mack; Threat images attentuate change blindness. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):556. doi: 10.1167/5.8.556.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Ro, Russell, & Lavie (2001) found that changing face images attenuate Change Blindness (CB). We asked if this also was true for snakes which seem to have the capacity to capture attention which has been attributed to our evolutionary past (Öhman & Mineka, 2003). Using a version of Ro et al.'s (2001) procedure, we asked whether CB would be attenuated for snakes and another threat stimulus (modern weapons) unlikely to have a long evolutionary history. Using the flicker paradigm 6 images from 6 different categories (snakes, weapons, appliances, clothes, food, and plants) were displayed in a notional circle. 24 Ss viewed alternating displays that either did or did not change. They pressed a computer key as soon as they detected change or no change and reported in which category the change occurred. Snake and weapon changes were reported more accurately than neutral changes. Surprisingly, the speed of snake change detection was not faster than for neutral stimuli, while weapon change detection was. A control experiment asked if the failure to find faster RTs for snake changes was due to the greater similarity between snake images which turned out to be so. Results indicate that weapons attenuate CB and suggest this may also be true of snakes. Like faces, imaged threat objects appear to have a special capacity to capture attention which cannot be entirely attributed to our evolutionary past.

ÖhmanA.MinekaS. (2003). The malicious serpent: Snakes as a prototypical stimulus for an evolved module of fear. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 5–8.

RoT.RussellC.LavieN. (2001). Changing Faces: A detection advantage in the flicker paradigm. Psychological Science, 12, 94–99.

Massin, J. Mack, A. (2005). Threat images attentuate change blindness [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):556, 556a,, doi:10.1167/5.8.556. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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