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ERIC Number: EJ991068
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-0096-1523
Semantic and Affective Salience: The Role of Meaning and Preference in Attentional Capture and Disengagement
Biggs, Adam T.; Kreager, Ryan D.; Gibson, Bradley S.; Villano, Michael; Crowell, Charles R.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v38 n2 p531-541 Apr 2012
Emotion appears to have a substantial impact on a wide variety of attentional functions. However, stimuli that elicit affective responses also tend to be meaningful. Here we attempted to disentangle the effects of meaning from the effects of affect on attentional capture by irrelevant distractors. Experiment 1 used a previously unfamiliar distractor stimulus, and manipulated the amount of knowledge provided to observers about the distractor. The results suggested that increases in meaning can reduce attentional capture. Experiments 2 and 3 used both familiar and unfamiliar symbols (baseball logos and flags, respectively) as distractors. Critically, of the two familiar symbols, one was rated as affective-positive and the other was rated as affective-negative. As in Experiment 1, the results showed that unfamiliar distractors can capture attention. In addition, the results also suggested that the two affective distractors captured attention (so long as they were sufficiently intense). This finding suggests that while increased knowledge can reduce capture, affect can restore an item's ability to capture attention. Finally, the results of Experiment 4 showed that observers were slower to disengage from a negative item than from a positive item. This evidence emphasizes the differential roles of semantic knowledge versus affect on attentional capture. (Contains 2 figures, 3 tables, 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: Indiana