ERIC Number: EJ788645
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Reference Count: 0
Attention Capture by Faces
Langton, Stephen R. H.; Law, Anna S.; Burton, A. Mike; Schweinberger, Stefan R.
Cognition, v107 n1 p330-342 Apr 2008
We report three experiments that investigate whether faces are capable of capturing attention when in competition with other non-face objects. In Experiment 1a participants took longer to decide that an array of objects contained a butterfly target when a face appeared as one of the distracting items than when the face did not appear in the array. This irrelevant face effect was eliminated when the items in the arrays were inverted in Experiment 1b ruling out an explanation based on some low-level image-based properties of the faces. Experiment 2 replicated and extended the results of Experiment 1a. Irrelevant faces once again interfered with search for butterflies but, when the roles of faces and butterflies were reversed, irrelevant butterflies no longer interfered with search for faces. This suggests that the irrelevant face effect is unlikely to have been caused by the relative novelty of the faces or arises because butterflies and faces were the only animate items in the arrays. We conclude that these experiments offer evidence of a stimulus-driven capture of attention by faces.
Descriptors: Nonverbal Communication, Attention, Visual Stimuli, Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Processes, Testing, Visual Discrimination
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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