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ERIC Number: EJ1008693
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jun
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 86
ISSN: ISSN-0096-1523
Context-Dependent Control over Attentional Capture
Cosman, Joshua D.; Vecera, Shaun P.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v39 n3 p836-848 Jun 2013
A number of studies have demonstrated that the likelihood of a salient item capturing attention is dependent on the "attentional set" an individual employs in a given situation. The instantiation of an attentional set is often viewed as a strategic, voluntary process, relying on working memory systems that represent immediate task priorities. However, influential theories of attention and automaticity propose that goal-directed control can operate more or less automatically on the basis of longer term task representations, a notion supported by a number of recent studies. Here, we provide evidence that longer term contextual learning can rapidly and automatically influence the instantiation of a given attentional set. Observers learned associations between specific attentional sets and specific task-irrelevant background scenes during a training session, and in the ensuing test session, simply reinstating particular scenes on a trial-by-trial basis biased observers to employ the associated attentional set. This directly influenced the magnitude of attentional capture, suggesting that memory for the context in which a task is performed can play an important role in the ability to instantiate a particular attentional set and overcome distraction by salient, task-irrelevant information. (Contains 3 tables, 3 figures, and 1 footnote.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa