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Adam Biggs, Thomas Spaventa, Joseph Hopfinger, Stephen Mitroff; The effects of searching for something you love (or hate): Duke and UNC students search for rival team logos.. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):696. doi: 10.1167/13.9.696.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
As the visual world is too complicated to be processed in its entirety, it is important to understand why attention is guided to some aspects of a display, but not others. The study of attentional guidance has typically focused on two distinct classes of mechanisms: stimulus-driven (the physical properties of a visual display) and goal-driven (top-down intentions). However, there are aspects not addressed by this dichotomy (Awh, Belopolsky, & Theeuwes, 2012), and perhaps the most prominent is how an observer’s unique experiences and beliefs influence attentional allocation. Here, we examined "observer-driven" factors in visual search by testing observers from both Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC)—two schools with a long-standing sports rivalry. Participants included in the study were those who self-identified as fans of their own university and as strongly disliking the other university, and the question was whether these affiliations would affect attentional allocation. Participants completed a visual search task wherein they reported the presence or absence of one of three possible targets: the Duke logo, the UNC logo, or a familiar neutral logo (Georgia Tech). This design minimizes stimulus-driven differences as the same physical logos can engender different affective responses depending on the observers’ affiliations. When searching through arrays of unfamiliar team logos, the Duke and UNC participants were quicker to find both the Duke and UNC logos than the Georgia Tech logo. Moreover, the strength of the observers’ feelings towards Duke and UNC significantly affected their search efficiency—more extreme feelings (either positive or negative) produced shallower search slopes. These findings support a role for observer-driven differences in attentional allocation that goes beyond the traditional stimulus-driven versus goal-driven dichotomy.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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