September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Examining the effects of task-irrelevant emotional scenes and individual differences in personality characteristics on performance in a visual search task
Author Affiliations
  • Monica Rosen
    Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Lauren Bandel
    Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Karl Kuntzelman
    Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Michael Dodd
    Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 655. doi:10.1167/18.10.655
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      Monica Rosen, Lauren Bandel, Karl Kuntzelman, Michael Dodd; Examining the effects of task-irrelevant emotional scenes and individual differences in personality characteristics on performance in a visual search task. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):655. doi: 10.1167/18.10.655.

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

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Abstract

It is well established that emotional stimuli capture attention, but there are a variety of contexts in which ignoring emotional distractions and maintaining focus on the task at hand are critical (e.g. emergency responders). In the present study, we investigate a) whether task-irrelevant emotional stimuli would influence performance on a primary visual search task as a function of task difficulty and b) whether there are individual differences in personality characteristics which may provide insight into how irrelevant emotional stimuli influence attention. Participants performed a standard visual search task in which they discriminated the location of a rotated target letter among distractors, with the search display overlaid on a collage of four low-contrast, gray-scaled images (three neutral and one rated either highly negative or positive). The target letter was always present and responses were made by manually indicating the quadrant in which the target was located via a keypress. In experiment 1, only accuracy and RT measures were collected and performance was compared as a function of target location, image valence, and search set size. Experiment 2 served as a replication of Experiment 1 with the addition of eye movements being monitored to determine where individuals first fixate in the search display and how frequently they return to each search quadrant as a function of image valence. Participants from both experiments were also asked to complete a number of personality surveys. Our results showed that performance differed depending on the target location and image valence. Moreover, this effect was moderated by task difficulty such that larger search set sizes were less likely to be affected by image valence. These results provide insight into the interactive influence of emotional stimuli and task difficulty which provide further understanding into the relationship between emotion, attention, and performance.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018

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