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Attention capture by faces

Langton, SRH and Law, AS and Burton, AM and Schweinberger, SR (2008) Attention capture by faces. Cognition, 107 (1). pp. 330-342. ISSN 0010-0277

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 08 Information And Computing Sciences, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences, 20 Language, Communication And Culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 26 May 2015 13:58
Last Modified: 26 May 2015 13:58
DOI or Identification number: /10.1016/j.cognition.2007.07.012
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1187

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