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Publication Detail
Entirely irrelevant distractors can capture and captivate attention.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Forster S, Lavie N
  • Publication date:
    12/2011
  • Pagination:
    1064, 1070
  • Journal:
    Psychon Bull Rev
  • Volume:
    18
  • Issue:
    6
  • Status:
    Published
  • Country:
    United States
  • Language:
    eng
  • Keywords:
    Adult, Attention, Female, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Task Performance and Analysis, Young Adult
Abstract
The question of whether a stimulus onset may capture attention when it is entirely irrelevant to the task and even in the absence of any attentional settings for abrupt onset or any dynamic changes has been highly controversial. In the present study, we designed a novel irrelevant capture task to address this question. Participants engaged in a continuous task making sequential forced choice (letter or digit) responses to each item in an alphanumeric matrix that remained on screen throughout many responses. This task therefore involved no attentional settings for onset or indeed any dynamic changes, yet the brief onset of an entirely irrelevant distractor (a cartoon picture) resulted in significant slowing of the two (Experiment 1) or three (Experiment 2) responses immediately following distractor appearance These findings provide a clear demonstration of attention being captured and captivated by a distractor that is entirely irrelevant to any attentional settings of the task.
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