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Sunghyun Kim, Melissa Beck; Impacts of Relative and Absolute Values on Selective Attention. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):192. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.192.
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Valuable stimuli receive attentional priority. However, it is unknown whether the mechanism of the attentional priority is based on relative (e.g., higher or lower than the value of another available object) or absolute value (e.g., 45 points) because high valued stimuli were relatively and absolutely valuable more than low valued stimuli in previous research. To investigate the impacts of the relative and absolute values on selective attention, we manipulated the relative and absolute values independently in a modified value-driven attention capture paradigm. In the training phase, reward was presented during a visual search task to aid associative learning between color and reward value, two test target colors were each presented with another different target color (reference target colors) in separate context blocks. Therefore, each test target color had different reference points. In the test phase, the two test target colors were presented as singleton distractor colors during a shape singleton search task. In Experiment 1, the absolute value of the reward associated with the two test target colors was the same, but one had a relatively higher value compared to its reference target color and the other had a relatively lower value. The relatively higher-valued color singleton distractor captured attention more than the relatively lower in test phase, suggesting that the relative value of stimuli influenced selective attention. In Experiment 2 the relative value of the test target colors was the same, but the absolute value was higher for one. The higher and lower absolute valued color singleton distractors captured attention equally, indicating little impact of the absolute value on attention. The present study suggests that the relative rather than absolute value plays a critical role in attention allocation, and that prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979) may extend to earlier cognitive stages such as selective attention.
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