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Yaïr Pinto, Chris Olivers, Jan Theeuwes; Static items involuntarily capture attention in a dynamic environment. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):1080. doi: 10.1167/7.9.1080.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Everyday experience gives us the intuition that dynamic items capture attention. Therefore, ambulances are equipped with flashlights, advertizers use blinking neon signs, and we start waving when we want to be noticed in a crowd. Research has indeed confirmed that dynamic items can guide or capture attention. However, Pinto, Olivers and Theeuwes (2006) showed that there are limitations to the attractiveness of dynamic items. In a visual search task where all items, except one, were dynamic, the dynamic items could be ignored and the static item could be efficiently detected. In the present research we investigate if attention is automatically drawn to the static item, or that attention only prefers the static item with the right attentional set. A series of experiments, employing the irrelevant feature search task, reveals that attention is involuntarily captured by the static item. This result is at odds with most of the current theories on attentional capture, including the influential ‘new object’ hypothesis. The current study indicates that features in contrast to the environment, rather than features by itself determine to where attention is drawn.
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