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Signals of threat do not capture, but prioritize, attention: a conditioning approach

Lies Notebaert (UGent) , Geert Crombez (UGent) , Stefaan Van Damme (UGent) , Jan De Houwer (UGent) and Jan Theeuwes
(2011) EMOTION. 11(1). p.81-89
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Abstract
Research suggests that threatening information captures attention more rapidly than neutral information. However, in most studies threat stimuli differ perceptually from neutral stimuli and are instrumental to perform the task, leaving the question unanswered whether threat is sufficient to capture attention. In experiment 1, we designed a visual search task with stimuli of equal salience (colored circles) that have the potential to lead to efficient search (10 ms/item). In experiment 2, one of the colors (conditioned stimulus, CS+) was made threatening by means of fear conditioning. Participants responded to a target presented in one of the circles. Overall, the search was faster on congruent trials (where the target was presented in the CS+) than on baseline trials (where the CS + was absent). Furthermore, the search was slower on incongruent trials (where the target was presented in another color than the CS+) than on baseline trials. The search on congruent trials was affected by set size (90 ms/item), but to a lesser extent than on baseline trials (105 ms/item). We conclude that threat prioritizes, but does not capture attention.
Keywords
COLOR, FEAR, EMOTION, PARALLEL, BIAS, ANXIETY DISORDERS, FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, PERCEPTUAL SELECTIVITY, visual search, VISUAL-SEARCH, fear conditioning, capture, attentional bias, INTERFERENCE, anxiety

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Chicago
Notebaert, Lies, Geert Crombez, Stefaan Van Damme, Jan De Houwer, and Jan Theeuwes. 2011. “Signals of Threat Do Not Capture, but Prioritize, Attention: a Conditioning Approach.” Emotion 11 (1): 81–89.
APA
Notebaert, L., Crombez, G., Van Damme, S., De Houwer, J., & Theeuwes, J. (2011). Signals of threat do not capture, but prioritize, attention: a conditioning approach. EMOTION, 11(1), 81–89.
Vancouver
1.
Notebaert L, Crombez G, Van Damme S, De Houwer J, Theeuwes J. Signals of threat do not capture, but prioritize, attention: a conditioning approach. EMOTION. 2011;11(1):81–9.
MLA
Notebaert, Lies, Geert Crombez, Stefaan Van Damme, et al. “Signals of Threat Do Not Capture, but Prioritize, Attention: a Conditioning Approach.” EMOTION 11.1 (2011): 81–89. Print.
@article{1213112,
  abstract     = {Research suggests that threatening information captures attention more rapidly than neutral information. However, in most studies threat stimuli differ perceptually from neutral stimuli and are instrumental to perform the task, leaving the question unanswered whether threat is sufficient to capture attention. In experiment 1, we designed a visual search task with stimuli of equal salience (colored circles) that have the potential to lead to efficient search (10 ms/item). In experiment 2, one of the colors (conditioned stimulus, CS+) was made threatening by means of fear conditioning. Participants responded to a target presented in one of the circles. Overall, the search was faster on congruent trials (where the target was presented in the CS+) than on baseline trials (where the CS + was absent). Furthermore, the search was slower on incongruent trials (where the target was presented in another color than the CS+) than on baseline trials. The search on congruent trials was affected by set size (90 ms/item), but to a lesser extent than on baseline trials (105 ms/item). We conclude that threat prioritizes, but does not capture attention.},
  author       = {Notebaert, Lies and Crombez, Geert and Van Damme, Stefaan and De Houwer, Jan and Theeuwes, Jan},
  issn         = {1528-3542},
  journal      = {EMOTION},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {81--89},
  title        = {Signals of threat do not capture, but prioritize, attention: a conditioning approach},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021286},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2011},
}

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