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Competing for attentional priority: temporary goals versus threats

Vogt, J., Houwer, J., Crombez, G. and Van Damme, S. (2013) Competing for attentional priority: temporary goals versus threats. Emotion, 13 (3). pp. 587-598. ISSN 1931-1516

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1037/a0027204


Numerous studies have shown that attention is biased toward threatening events. More recent evidence has also found attentional biases for stimuli that are relevant to the current and temporary goals of an individual. We examined whether goal-relevant information still evokes an attentional bias when this information competes with threatening events. In three experiments, participants performed a dot probe task combined with a separate task that induced a temporary goal. The results of Experiment 1 showed that attention was oriented to goal-relevant pictures in the dot probe task when these pictures were simultaneously presented with neutral or threatening pictures. Whether goal-relevant pictures themselves were threatening or neutral did not influence the results. Experiment 2 replicated these findings in a sample of highly trait-anxious participants. Experiment 3 showed that attention was automatically deployed to stimuli relevant to a temporary goal even in the presence of stimuli that signal imminent and genuine threat (i.e., a colored patch signaling the presentation of an aversive noise). These findings further corroborate the conclusion that an individual's current and temporary goals guide early attentional processes

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:33973
Publisher:American Psychological Association

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